Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Public Enemies
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 18:16
publicenemiesposterPublic Enemies may succeed in making lots of friends at the box office based on the popularity of its lead actor. Johnny Depp isn’t exactly the pariah of the actors playground and he tends to draw a crowd no matter what role he takes on. Depp may be one of the most recognizable faces on the Hollywood scene, and with good reason since he can flawlessly embody almost any persona he takes on.

In this case he captures the life of another sought-after societal figure - John Dillinger. One of the famous crime bosses of the 1930’s, Dillinger was a bank robber who was known as a sort of Robin Hood to the public. He always insisted on stealing the “bank’s money” and not the “people’s money” and was even known to give money to nearby citizens while carrying out his crimes. He depicts Dillinger as a contemporary charmer and it’s easy to fall under his spell.

publicenemiespic3Of course with such a charismatic law breaker on the loose, the police are eager to make an example out of him. Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis, a special agent assigned to one task and one task alone – to take down Dillinger. He’s a good man and this assignment will make or break his career. The key to Dillinger’s downfall might lie with the love of his life Billie Frechette played with show stopping grace by Marion Cotillard. This beautiful French actress is one to watch, having already come out of nowhere (at least to American audiences) and swiped the Best Actress Oscar in 2008 for La Vie en Rose. She plays Billie with grace and emotion – a lot goes on behind those big doe eyes.

publicenemiespic2Director Michael Mann has had his share of blockbusters The Last of the Mohicans, Ali and Heat. Here he takes his time developing incredible attention to detail on set. It’s a treat to see the actors eat up the scenery, which is stunningly captured in HD. My one complaint is that he should have devoted the same attention to story and character development. Often it feels as if we’re just supposed to know who these people are, what their motives are, without any introduction. We are plunked into this time travel machine and expected to know exactly who we’re traveling with just because it’s found in a history book. But as a movie, the focus should be on storytelling – especially if much of history is altered in fabrication.

Regardless of historical accuracy or minor flaws this is an entertaining movie with some great performances. Not the best movie of the year, but certainly one that has a lot to offer. I’d be willing to bet we might see Depp’s name on the ballot come Oscar time.