Saturday, July 04, 2009
Movie Reviews: PUBLIC ENEMIES
No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone—from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression. But while the adventures of Dillinger’s gang—later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi)—thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw’s capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America’s first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing “Clark Gable of the FBI.’’ However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis’ men in wild chases and shootouts.
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: Michael Mann
Opened ..July 1, 2009..
Runtime: 2 hr. 23 min.
Rated R for gangster violence and some language
Genres: Period Film, Crime Drama, Gangster Film, Crime
Michael Mann’s Public Enemies is a well polished and measured film that sizzles but never quite boils over. Mann shooting again in HD, which is surprisingly effective considering the subject matter, effectively places the audience into an authentic 1930’s surrounding. His style allows for a sense of immediacy that fits the films subject matter. It gives the film a pop that most big budget action films lack and anyone who’s seen a Michael Mann film knows he’s a thinking man’s crime drama auteur. The action sequences are jarring and never gratuitous; the shootout in the woods is especially effective, allowing the audience to feel the sensation of the collected carnage unleashed by Tommy gun fire. Needless to say Mann knows how to set the table and here he uses his cast wonderfully to populate this meticulously recreated era. Johnny Depp is on center stage here and he’s through effective in a restrained performance as he chooses to avoid the more cartoonish aspects of Dillinger’s persona. Instead, he brings a natural charisma and bravado to the character that standout through fairly subtle movements, it’s definitely a less is more approach that works well for the film. Christian Bale character is as stoic and stiff as an over starched shirt and the script doesn’t allow for much else to do. That being said Bale does take a few opportunities to give his character a bit more depth through some small but noticeable facial expressions during that film’s latter segments. Marion Cotillard does fine work as Dillinger’s love interest even if her accent wavers as much as Depp’s Fedoras. Billy Crudup turns in a scene stealing take as J. Edgar Hoover complete with old time accent and accelerated speech. While the overall production and cast are top notch there is a very apparent detachment from the characters and story. While Mann tries valiantly to put the audience in the room with these characters, something he does very effectively, we feel very little if any connection to these characters. As the film closes the emotional punches don’t hit as hard as they should. Considering Mann’s studious and meticulously process this effect might be quite intentional, simply giving the audience a glimpse at what happened during these last few years of Dillinger’s intriguing life.