Public Enemies (2009)
Reviewed on 2010 April 20
Very good Michael Mann depiction of the pursuit of John Dillinger and the Little Bohemia shoot-out, that follows actual events a lot more closely than many current “historical” films.
The movie follows John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) on his bank-heisting spree, showing his apparent adoration by the press, his relationship with his best gal Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), and what a professional and personal thorn in the side he is to J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup). If anyone is more intent on getting Public Enemy #1 it’s Hoover’s Chicago Bureau of Investigation bulldog Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Purvis is known for getting the gangsters of that era, and Dillinger is too big a trophy and too much of a thumb in the eye of the G-men to let go.
My only gripe, and it’s a small one, is how Mann paints Dillinger as a good guy who just happened to knock over banks. I can get past that for how well-done everything else is; Mann is apparently a detail freak and that’s a good thing. And while there was no bad acting in this, do I even have to say Depp was good? Stephen Graham was creepy as Baby Face Nelson, but what made it for me was the whole eerie Little Bohemia sequence. My sister-in-law and I just watched the whole thing, riveted, and when it was over she said just one word: “Wow.” Which is a pretty good single-word summary of this film.
Three chocolate morsels.