Public Enemies Reviews
With its measured, team-produced screenplay by Mann, Ronan Bennett, and Ann Biderman, Public Enemies makes heavy business of the notion that Hoover ushered in an era of ethically elastic law-enforcement procedures still recognizable today.
It's a picture with virility and confidence, and unlike Dillinger's machine-gun, which the man himself expertly takes to pieces, it never quite jams, and gets off one or two lethal rounds.
Director Michael Mann mounts a technically proficient, visually enthralling crime drama anchored by the low-key but captivating performance of Johnny Depp as legendary bank robber John Dillinger.
The underconceived Public Enemies suffers from that lack of drive, though Johnny Depp is so urgent and charismatic as John Dillinger, he provides enough firepower to make the film legit.
Public Enemies is as elegant and muscular a film as one could hope for in a summer of flash and noise. Which is not to say director Michael Mann's gangster saga lacks flash and simmer.
The best rejoinder to Public Enemies is Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal video... It's a tommy-gun gangster fantasia with a touch of Guys and Dolls, and it's everything Public Enemies isn't.
It's a fascinating bundle of contradictions--authentic in a million details, deeply romanticized in others. Cool, calm and collected, this is more love story than gangster picture.
Mann excels at staging the chaotic bank jobs and bloody shootouts that were just a day at the office for Dillinger, but even at 140 minutes the movie is so dense with incident that there isn't much room for cultural comment or character development.