The Attempted Review of Public Enemies

Posted by WhenYourGodGivesYouLemons On 9:26 PM

Public Enemies is director Michael Mann's latest big flick. It comes out all guns blazing with two of the biggest actors at the moment, the roguish Johnny Depp and the Batman himself Christain Bale.

Story (Caution Spoilers)... The film takes place during the Great Depression when a great crime wave is sweeping America. At the centre of this is public enemy number one, John Dillinger (Depp) bank robber extraordinaire. Dillinger and his gang, with the help of the Chicago Crime Syndicate (The Mob) rob any bank they want at any time they want. When these guys rob a bank they really go to town, sporting Thompson sub machine guns and BAR rifles they'll kill a cop without batting an eyelash. The emerging FBI and its ambitious director, J Edgar Hoover (Dr Manhattan himself Billy Cruddup) soon make Dillinger and his gang the centre of their attention assigning hardball G-man Agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) with the task of taking him down. What emerges is a somewhat accurate retelling of the life of John Dillinger and his escapades structured around a game of cat and mouse between Dillinger and the FBI complete with prison breaks, some romance and gunfights.

What it Did Well... The film looked amazing. Set in the 30's it captured the look, feel and sounds of the period with iconic music, cars, weapons and fashion. One thing that I found quite funny though was the fact that this was the Great Depression yet all you saw of the immense poverty was one or two homeless people on the streets. Anyway the film was shot really well, blending traditional clean, clear and crisp cut filming albeit shot in digital high definition with raw, grainy and jumpy hand held style filming. Picture a mix between Cloverfield and The Untouchables. This was really cool as it changed the pace of the film and gave certain scenes a more personal outlook. The gunfights were all spectacular, the guns packed a punch both in sound, which was sometimes deafening, and destructive potential, which caused brutal injuries. What I really liked about the sound though was it would change depending on the positioning of the camera. One scene it could be right behind Dillinger and the bullets fill the room, the next the camera is looking up from the floor and the sound is toned down. Once again Depp did a magnificent job, portraying Dillinger in a way that made you like him and want him to succeed. He drew you in with his smirk and his confidence, even going as far as to walk into the Chicago Police Department and head straight for the detective offices of the men who were trying to catch him. He really showed off that live for today attitude most people dream of. Every scene with Depp in it had this extra excitement and intrigue attached to it.

What it Didn't... Most of my complaints to do with this film could be linked to the cinema I saw it in. Where I go always has sound issues, it fluctuates between really clear and really dull and muffled and given this film collects a range of different American accents certain conversations were hard to follow. This meant I didn't know Johnny Depp's love interests name, which was Billie by the way, until the end of the film. Also the already mentioned hand held filming style, which whilst looking really cool can occasionally make itself hard to focus on especially close up and leaves you feeling a little disorientated. Viewing this film again may dispel these grievances though. What I didn't think it did well as a film was build up it's characters. It had well structured and paced action scenes but in it's downtime, when it dealt with the characters and their interactions with each other we didn't really learn anything about them outside of Dillinger and Billie. You didn't feel attached to Dillinger's right hand man and you didn't find yourself rooting for Purvis. It was focused solely on Dillinger and only dealt with Dillinger and how people interacted with him. Also the Crime Syndicate link was interesting and added a different dimension to the story but it didn't really go anywhere.

Memorable Scene... The little Bohemia shootout. Like a shootout in an old Western film there was the Sherriff (Bale) with his deputies surrounding Dillinger and his gang. They circle round the place and before they can take Dillinger by surprise they get trigger happy and unload on some unsuspecting drunks, mistaken for Dillinger. From there all hell breaks loose as Dillinger and his guys start firing on the Feds. There are a lot of cool camera angles used and the footage has a good grungy feel to it, with the predominant light at times the muzzle flash from the guns. It leaves you wondering the whole time how and who will escape from this situation leading to a mini-climax of its own.

What it All Means... Public Enemies a visually amazing film that I am already looking forward to seeing again, this time in the privacy of my own home. Depp once again steals the show as bank robbing outlaw John Dillinger and it's only a few problems away from true greatness. It is still one of the best movies I've seen this year and I give Public Enemies 8 out of 10.



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