February 19, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Public Enemies

Title: Public Enemies
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale
Directed by: Michael Mann
Released: 2009
Genre: Historical Bio-pic

This movie looks fantastic. What could have come precariously close to looking like a parody of itself, like a Dick Tracy spin-off, ended up looking like one of the most well crafted pieces of eye candy I've seen when it comes to movies depicting the Depression era.

It also feels like the kind of movie that was custom made for Johnny Depp. Granted, the guy just seems to have a knack for fitting himself into whatever character he plays. Christian Bale, on the other hand, seemed to be out of his element. That's a shame too, because to see how much work he put into researching the history of the man he played, you'd think he would have disappeared into the role. Maybe I'm just biased, but Bale is a lot like Tom Cruise to me, in that I never see his character. I just see him.

The film disappointed me, I must admit. As pretty as it is to look at, it's drawn out too long. It's about two and a half hours long, and given the very glossy treatment the movie was given, it could have easily been drawn back to a solid two hours. For as many intense scenes involving captivating shoot outs, fights, and escapes, there are an equal amount of muted, atmospheric moments of tedium. So many supporting characters are introduced through the duration of this film, you'd expect more development of those characters. But, no. Instead, many are only prop pieces placed on the screen for Depp and Bale to bounce off of.

I watched this movie and didn't really feel like I learned anything new about the famed bank robber, John Dillinger In fact, Michael Mann implanted so many contrivances in the narrative, I'm pretty sure I would need to hit the history books in order to debunk what I suspect are purely fabricated moments in Dillinger's life. It goes without saying that there is creative license afforded to movies like this, but there were a couple of scenes that just screamed "this never happened!"

If you're a fan of Johnny Depp, and I mean a big fan, you'll probably find enough in this movie to keep you entertained. He devours scenes each time the camera is on him, which plays well into the braggadocio of Dillinger Otherwise, I don't think anyone else needs to hurry to see this movie. If you want a better gangster bio-pic, seek out Warren Beatty's Bugsy.


  1. I see Johnny Depp more than I see Christian Bale, to be honest. But yep, this movie was way too long and didn't have much action.

  2. I was incredibly disappointed, myself. Great actors, but the characters seemed lifeless to me.

    Oh, and Tag. You're it. http://deadinthesouth.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-got-tagged.html

  3. You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

  4. Lenore - Depp is everywhere these days. I think he's trying to give Samuel L. Jackson a run for his money.

    Kent - Tagged? Dang. Now I gotta meme this week. Ah well, should be interesting. :)

    Anon - Um ... thanks?