Dir: Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Ali, The Insider, Heat, Manhunter)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard
Seen: December 3, 2009 on DVD
Reason to see: It's Michael Mann
I'll say this. Michael Mann makes beautiful films. Impressive expansive shots, colours on the screen that you want to touch, fantastic art direction, costuming and the works. But all this together and a living, breathing atmosphere is created and kept throughout the duration of the film. I'm not a huge fan of period film but this one really takes the cake, you really feel like you are in that time period, in that car, in that restaurant or given the context, in that bank, shoot out or being on the run.
Public Enemies follows John Dillinger, a bank robber played by Johnny Depp and Melvin Purvis, the man set on catching him played by Christian Bale. Michael Mann is no stranger to the double protagonist film and here he takes what could have been a cat and mouse game to a different level but showing the two characters story lines evolve separately, yet concurrently. This is an interesting take giving the opportunity to fill out the worlds of the two men with a lot of care and detail, but keeps them rather distant. This distance is a chord that runs through the film on a variety of levels, as the audience can feel distanced from Melvin Purvis the arm of the law whom normally we would be rooting for. On the flip side, we are charmed by Johnny Depp as Dillinger who brings the film to life - but isn't he the bad guy? So who is the enemy here? It is an interesting question to ponder and one that the film presents well.
Overall I though the stage was set extremely well and enjoyed the performances of the lead actors, especially Johnny Depp. Although I didn't always feel the chemistry between him and Marion Cotillard who plays Billie when it is there it is electric. I also enjoyed the rich atmosphere throughout and the beauty of the stunning visuals. Very worthwhile viewing.
DVD Extras include: Feature Commentary with director Michael Mann, Larger than Life: Adversaries - Johnny Depp and Christian Bale face off as the legendary Dillinger and Purvis.
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it to fans of crime and/or historical films
Return to Film Reviews
© Shannon Ridler, 2009