|French subtitles Public Enemies||4 years ago|
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John Dillinger- Public Enemy #1
7/10 The year is 1933, it's the Great Depression. A time for the desperate to do the unthinkable. Crime was on the rise and people were suffering. For John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) it was a time of infinite possibilities and opportunities. To combat the sharp incline in rampant criminal activity, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) forms the FBI, led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Together they target Dillinger as public enemy number one. Relying on new methods of intelligence gathering (such as tracking the purchase location of a coat or recording phone conversations), the firepower of trained gunmen, and his own relentless nature, Purvis gets closer and closer to Dillinger and company.4 years ago
"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars... and you. What else do you need to know?" - John Dillinger. Johnny Depp IS John Dillinger. He's perfect for the role. The cool, confident and almost cocky nature of the character is really portrayed on screen (such as bragging to reporters about his bank jobs and teasing Purvis and agents who are after him). It's a look of how a man lived and succeeded in a hard time. Dillinger was a man that lived in the moment as only a man in the depression could. From the worlds on John Dillinger, "I'm to busy having fun today to even think about tomorrow." Who knows what tomorrow might bring? Bale also succeeds in his role and is a solid counterpart against Depp. It works well having two top, well known actors opposing each other on screen.
The film is directed by Michael Mann who brought us such films as Heat, The Insider, and Collateral and he adds another good film to his resume with this one. The action sequences, bank heists, and shootouts in this film are probably the biggest highlights. After all, this is from the same guy who gave us one of the most famous and arguably the best shootout of all time in Heat. The sequences are cool, slick, and gritty. Excellence at it's best. (I have to throw in a note of praise for the superb shootout at the Little Bohemia lodge, which was an extremely impressive scene)
The cat and mouse aspect makes it intriguing, but I think more could have been added to it. It just feels as if something was missing. Much of the film focuses on the love story between Dillinger and Billie Frechette (Marion Cottillard) It's also interesting to see the other gangsters of this time and how they relate to Dillinger and the criminal world.
Much has been made of Public Enemies being filmed on HD video, mostly complaints. I must say that at times, the picture looked amazing. The night sequences, especially looked beautifully slick and realistic. I loved the cinematography here. The cars, headlights, street lights, and everything looked fantastic. Other times, it doesn't look as good. It just felt as if something didn't look right. I'm not sure what to think about this.
One problem I had with this film would have to be the lack of character depth in many of the characters. At times, it seems as if we are expected to know and understand the characters before going to see the film because it is a real life story. But as a film, it could have developed the characters more to help us (and those who know nothing about Dillinger, his life, or Purvis and the FBI) understand them better. Another problem was some of the historical inaccuracies. Many things portrayed in the film, do not happen as they did in real life. Many sequences are just out of order. I know the filmmakers had to know about this and just tried to work it in as best as they could. It's not a documentary, it's a movie.
I really enjoyed Public Enemies. It's a solid crime drama and a good summer film. I understand expectations were through the roof, but that's a little hard to ask for. It's a really good film, but not quite a great one... The action is fun, the story is interesting. Maybe instead of being a very good film, it could have became a really great film if more was put into the characters? I'm not sure. It just felt as if something were missing. But who can knock a film for still being good?
Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow
5/10 Who was John Dillinger? We all know he was a flamboyant criminal who robbed banks, but who WAS he? The question of who Dillinger WAS is far more interesting than the question of what Dillinger DID, but this film, sadly, chose only to concentrate seriously on the latter and gave up almost immediately on the former.4 years ago
This film goes out of its way--with a poor grasp of history's time-line, by the way--to show us what Dillinger did and who he hung around with, but it does next to nothing to explore who Dillinger was as a person or even as a criminal. It hints that Dillinger might be a passionate lover and loyal friend, but shows us little evidence aside from a few thrown-together seduction scenes (which make his girlfriend/heroine look like a dim-witted pushover) and an awkward love scene.
Even Dillinger's foil, Melvin Purvis, is a mystery in Mann's hands. Did he care about justice at all, or was he just a fascist on a personal crusade? Was he competent in the least or was he just a bumbling idiot? Squinty-eyed stares can only convey so much, after all.
Michael Mann seems to be in a terrible hurry to tell this story, as he is stuck between the rock of having to relate a relatively complete "crime-ography" of a notorious American gangster and the hard place of keeping the movie shorter than 2 1/2 hours.
As a result, a beautifully shot and edited movie that had a lot of promise ends up little more than a dumb, shoot-'em-up action movie wearing the fedora of "historical romance." Good for a date, but not a serious film.
Grade: C+. Things to look for: Mann's ham-handed and laughably obvious political commentary on the use of torture about 2/3 of the way through the movie; psychotically trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson well-played by Stephen Graham; cool old products (Zenth radio); great fashion sense.
Ambitious, expensive but crippled with dud characters, dim ideas.
5/10 Very disappointing retelling of the 13-month John Dillinger crime spree across the Midwest in 1933-34. Here's why without any BS: 1.) No personality. Gang members remain ciphers throughout. (When Red Hamilton (Jason Clark) dies after being in EVERY OTHER SCENE you think: Who the hell is he. None of the subsidiary people pop, unlike the vast number of vivid unique individuals in HEAT. 2.) Depp miscast badly. Read about Dillinger: he was ebullient, charming, commanding. With NO experience he commandeered the best pro bank robbers in the Midwest to follow his lead and led them on a 13-month blaze of glory and infamy. Depp instead is pensive, moody, brooding, internalized: he never displays the charisma and guile that the historic Dillinger did. He was chosen for his romantic chops, not his gangster chops, because of . . . 3.) Misemphasis on romantic. Mann pays too much attention to Dillinger's least interesting thing, that is, his affair with Billy Freschette. This was clearly NOT a love-unto-death deal like Bonnie and Clyde. Before Billy, Dillinger had girlfriends, after Billy Dillinger had girlfriends and during Billy, Dillinger had girlfriends. The guy had been in stir 9 years; he had a lot of catching up to do. Mann emphasizes this affair, ignores Dillinger's unique connection to his family in Indiana (very interesting), his leadership skills, his courage. Very odd and unfortunate (and disappointing) choice. 4.) Accuracy, as in, lack thereof. Mann really doesn't progress beyond Milius's 1973 truncated take; he starts out with lies (Dillinger at escape from state pen by his cohorts, Purvis singlehandedly bringing down Pretty Boy Floyd) in the first two scenes and it never gets better. In fact most of the men we watch die in the film died AFTER, not before, Dillinger, including Floyd and Babyface Nelson and Homer Van Meter and Harry Pierpont. Why did Mann buy rights to Burroughs' "Public Enemies" if he was going to make stuff up? Also (SPOILER): a major meme in the film is that the syndicate, under Frank Nitti, "got" Dillinger because his kind of spectacular showboat caper was screwing things up for the big money boys; in the literature, I can find NO evidence of this being the case. 5.) Introduced, then abandoned, themes: Mann intros at least four major ideas about Dillinger and his fate which could serve as a kind of structure for the movie; then he abandons all of them, leaving them as pointless curiosities. The first I've mentioned: that the mob got Dillinger. No. 2 (from Burroughs): Hoover used the Road Warrior bandits crime spree as a methodology to grow his Bureau and cement his own control of it and his place in popular culture. No. 3: the coming of western gunman. Indeed, at a certain point, the Bureau did bring in experienced gunfighters as Mann shows, but he never really dramatizes or builds on their contribution to the take-down of the bad guys. He seems to set up, then walk away from the idea of cowboys vs. bank robbers. Very disappointing. 4. The inexperience of Hoover. He includes a scene (it actually took place in 1936, not '33) where a Senator derides Hoover and makes a big deal over the fact that Hoover's never made an arrest. Then of course Mann doesn't bring that issue to conclusion, showing Hoover arresting Alvin Karpis, who is a kind of mystery guest (he's played by Giovonni Ribisi) who appears and disappears from the film without explanation. Which leads to: 6.) Editing woes. Ribisi is just one such mystery guest; other big name, well-known people appear in meaningless, undeveloped characters, suggesting that whole subplots of the film were left out and what we're seeing in a hasty, shortened edit (like the version of "Once Upon a Time in America" that was initially released). You can fairly ask: what the hell are Ribisi, Leelee Sobieski, Matt Craven and Steven Lang even doing here when they have so little to do; Craven doesn't even have any lines! I am looking forward to a director's cut sometime in the future. On the plus side, yes: great clothes, great cars, great location shots, superb editing and beast of all great gunfights. But the guns demonstrate some astonishing marginal attention to detail while much large issues of history are deliberately misstated. Why does Mann get the fact the Babyface had a Colt .38 Super converted to a machine pistol with a Thompson vertical fore-grip mounted on the dustcover (look fast or you'll miss it) at the Little Bohemia shootout but insist, after John Milius, (SPOILER) that the Babyface was slain there. Nelson didn't die until October and he went down hard, taking two FBIers with him. Ultimate judgment: such a squandered opportunity! There's probably never going to be another big Dillinger movie and it sickens me that Mann willfully made so many dubious decisions. These people lived and died and fought and bled for and against us, gave us their lives; they deserved SO MUCH BETTER.4 years ago
Hit and miss, mostly miss
6/10 This movie tells the later stages of the crime career of John Dillinger, famous bank robber. What's good: Johnny Depp and Christian bale are good, the pacing is good, the sets and period detail are perfect. The score is quite good too.4 years ago
What's bad: a shootout sequence is obviously shot on a video camera looks cheap and has a major discontinuity in it. Other scenes the camera is shaky.
Also for a movie that prides itself on historical detail, it plays fast and loose with the facts about the Dillinger gang. For instance the death of "Baby Face" Nelson is complete fiction. You are duped into thinking the director cares about historical details with all the period sets, cars, news stories on the radio etc, but actually major parts of the plot are just made up. Of course the reason that historical movies rarely follow history exactly is that real events don't naturally follow standard narrative.
So it is not a documentary, which is fine, so it must be a character movie right? This brings me to its biggest flaw. An important goal of a movie like this is to build an emotional connection with the central character. This ought to be easy with a character like Dillinger, because he actually built a huge public fan base as a latter day "Robin Hood", despite being a murderous bank robbing crook. It tries hard and it does get close, particularly with the scenes involving Billie, one of Dillinger's many girlfriends. In the end, though, I just did not care all that much about him..
It is competent, but ultimately it fails to match up in comparison with other movies of this genre. Right now the IMDb rating for this movie is higher than "The Untouchables", "Once Upon a Time in America" or "Goodfellas", which is a testament to the cinematic ignorance of the majority of IMDb voters. No doubt the same people will rate this comment down, probably without even reading it, simply because I did not give the movie a 9 or 10.
Mediocre at Best, but so very flawed!
4/10 This film is mediocre at best. I saw it last night, and was hoping that I'd get the rant over with before this morning, but sadly I find that I cannot find many things that were right with this film!!4 years ago
1. Death Sequences: These were all mixed up and, as a bit of a history buff, I didn't like that! Dillinger was not the last of his gang to die, I believe it was Baby Face Nelson (who was not killed with Homer Van Meter either). And, Pretty Boy Floyd (although no real link with Dillinger) was killed after Dillinger and his boys.
2. Character Development: This was very, very poor for what was rumoured to be a big hit of Summer 09! Too much time was definitely spent on the whole Dillinger/Billie relationship, and on Purvis. Sure, they were the big name stars, but it should've been about characters not star pulling power!! "Handsome" Harry Pierpont, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc. deserved more screen time! The scene with Pretty Boy Floyd; I had no idea who he was meant to be at first! I thought it was some random chase through an orchard! Pierpont disappears about halfway through, never to be heard from again. Then, Dillinger's going round with some more guys, who shortly end up dead. Half the time, I was lost as to who was who except the big-name stars and the characters I'd learnt a bit about.
3. Action sequences: Way too long in my opinion, and could've been cut down to make way for more character development. The sound effects weren't even that effective, as to me they sounded more like fireworks at some points or were too loud.
The good points are few in number. The acting was good, camera work was sub-standard, lighting was good, angles were okay if not a little dodgy in places, etc. There is, however, nothing that I can really stick to as a fantastic feature of this film.