A slow gritty look at the life of John Dillinger
at 2010-04-01 10:41:29
Public Enemies is a solid, convincing film about the exploits of John Dillinger, and the team of investigators tasked with apprehending the infamous bank robber. Director Michael Mann has crafted a great thick atmosphere around the events of Dillinger?s exploits and his eventual down fall.
Johnny Depp starts as Dillinger, a self-stylized robin hood of depression era America, he and his gang roam the country taking banks for everything they have. During his travels, John charms and falls for a beautiful young lady; Evelyn Frechette played by the wonderful Marion Cotillard. They become deeply connected, nearly inseparable. Depp?s performance is understated and lacking any of the wild characteristics that his more popular portrayals are known for. He brings great class and seriousness to the role of Americas most wanted man. Cotillard is equally as thoughtful about her role, playing Dillinger?s great love with grace and poise.
Dillinger is chased by the fledgling Federal Bureau of Investigation, and agent Melvin Purvis, Christian Bale, as is true of the most of the films cast; does not over play his character, reframing from screen grabbing performances, opting for a more subdued presence then capable of.
The story is slowly paced; perhaps a bit to slow as the mid-section tends to drag a bit. Dillinger finds his list of friends disappearing, organized crime is moving away from simple robbery into the more profitable venues of gambling and kidnapping. The heads of Chicago?s families begin to see Dillinger as a threat to their security, his flamboyant headline grabbing raids bringing unwanted attention to there door steps.
I wanted to love this film; its rough take on the story of America?s most famous bank robber was poignant and well told. The gunfights had realism and a lack of explosive style that I appreciated in light of today?s frequent over the top action sequences, Unfortunately I was slightly let down, I did not connect with the characters, Depp and Bale lacked the spark that a great hero villain relationship; never getting to dig into each others nature. It?s a waste to have these two fine actors and never have them explore an antagonistic connection. The entire film has a grounded authentic composition, the action sequences are edited with almost no music, the intense gun fire and low upfront angles give them a gritty more striking tone.
Public Enemies is a very well made film, its cinematography and set pieces are beautiful, the characters are grounded in reality, the action is dirty and hard hitting. But I think it may take itself a bit too seriously. Depp doesn?t get to fully develop the persona of Dillinger; his motives are never completely visualized. It is a bit too long and slow in the second act, but does have a great authentic feeling. I enjoyed its details and realistic rendition of fascinating true events, but was not caught by the characters, it failed to grab and excite me.
Was this review helpful to you?