This is a great film. Michael Mann really delivers.
I wish this movie was longer than 2 hours and 20 minutes.Public Enemies gives viewers the story of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). He was a new kind of criminal at a time when America was just starting to feel its oats as a nation. He was the best there was at pulling off bank robberies. He and his team were quick, efficient, and they had no problem with the notoriety that their deeds gave them. Everything got heightened when Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) entered the picture. Unafraid of Dillinger and his gang, he went after them with everything he had and along the way a mutual respect seemed to develop between the two men. The cat and mouse games soon turn deadly, with Dillinger realizing that Purvis is no ordinary lawman. By the time he puts this together, it is too late and Dillinger finds himself on the other side of the gun.
Commentary by Michael Mann
Michael Mann speaks another language. There is no other way that I can put it. He loves the movies he makes. He loves the process. Even moreso, he loves the research process. He wants viewers to care as much as he does. These things were all apparent during this commentary track. People expecting Mann to tell anecdotes or stories about the film might be left wanting. He does that here but he is more into describing how what you are seeing on screen got there. It isn't just about the production. It's about psychology. The mindset of the Dillinger character pervades this film and Mann wanted to tap into that in order to tell this tale. That informs everything else going on in the movie. Now, if what I wrote might seem baffling, welcome to the world, mindset and psychosis of Michael Mann.
Larger than Life
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.40:1. This movie looked great in the theater and on DVD it also looked incredibly sharp. Why Mann is so obsessed with mixing video and 35mm film is beyond me but it works to good effect here. This movie looks and feels like the time that it is portraying. I never felt like I was watching something shot on a set and that alone makes this DVD worth screening. It also looks like Universal has done a solid job with the transfer process as nothing looks overly cooked in the image department. One of Mann's longtime Director's of Photography, Dante Spinotti, has handled his job with amazing depth and richness.
English, Spanish and French 5.1. English DVS 2.0. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. The audio on this movie was good. Sometimes Michael Mann tries to make things a bit too authentic. By that I mean that the movies look good, but the sound is almost incomprehensible. He likes to make things quiet in order to bring us into the mindset of the characters. It is as if he feels that the ambient audio elements can best tell that portion of the story. When this movie started I was afraid he was going down that road but thankfully, Public Enemies r went that way.
A close-up shot of Depp is featured on this camera sporting a black fedora and a tommy gun. The title of this film is embossed here. The back cover gives us 5 images of the stars from this film, a description of what Public Enemies is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
I was really excited about this film and Michael Mann didn't disappoint. He is one of my favorite directors working today and while sometimes he gets a bit too cerebral with his subjects (Ali, Miami Vice), when he's good there's no one better at telling a story and creating the necessary reality that viewers need. He gets so involved with the history of his subjects and he seems to demand that of his cast and crew. As I stated above, his commentary track would often go into discourses of information that viewers might never see, but that the actors and the people composing the scenes had on their minds while they were working. When all of this coalesces it makes for some amazing film experiences. Public Enemies is certainly one of those as this movie straddles the world of documentary and narrative films, deftly.
Also, who better to make this film than Michael Mann? From Thief, to Manhunter, to Heat, to Public Enemies (and the hopefully getting made Frankie Machine), Mann has shown that the world of criminals isn't just one that he feels comfortable in, but one that he also understands. It is this understanding that makes Public Enemies such an enjoyable experience. It is filled with nuance, mood, characters and story and that makes it a DVD to own.