Romance and Tommy-guns

  • 2009-07-23
  • By Michael Litvinsky

JOHN DILLINGER: The Robin Hood of the Great Depression, wonderfully played by Johnny Depp

If you think that "Public Enemies" is another Godfather-like gangster drama, then you are absolutely wrong. "Public Enemies" is not drama 's it is more like an action movie, a thriller with elements of drama.

The movie tells us about an impudent, cheeky but, nevertheless, terribly charming and charismatic bank robber, John Dillinger (Depp), whose lightning-fast bank robberies made him Public Enemy number one, and the main target for the FBI and its chief, Edgar Hoover. Hoover forms a special group and puts agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) in charge.
Still, if you expect an old fashioned cop versus criminal duel, as you might have seen in Mann's earlier work "The Heat," it is possible that you will leave the theater disappointed. It is not the fight between Dillinger and Purvis that is the main plot of the film, it is Dillinger's life, the evolution of this man, that makes the film interesting.

The film starts off in 1933 in Chicago, where John Dillinger and a couple of his companions make a daring escape from the state prison, then rush through a couple of bank robberies. Celebrating the fact of his escape, Dillinger meets Billie Frechette (Academy Award winning actress Marion Cotillard), who he instantly falls in love with. Through the series of countless bank jobs and cop chases, this love affair continues to grow stronger, up until the death of Dillinger.

The acting of Johnny Depp is, of course, worth mentioning. It is interesting how a "Johnny Depp" movie never gets a bad review, just because of his acting. Well, you can say with confidence that Depp has maintained his reputation. Another splendid performance and an original and interesting character, nothing similar to anything that Depp has played before. Even in the middle of the film, when the action starts to get a little inert, he pulls it off with great acting.

Scenes like these include the part where we see the audience see Dillinger on the screen and the audience is told to look to each side, while Dillinger sits in the same movie theater, or the scene when Dillinger goes inside a police station, walking around and asking the policemen for the baseball scores and leaves completely unnoticed, these make the film unforgettable. And, of course, the "Grand finale" where we see Dillinger watching the iconic criminal drama "Manhattan Melodrama," with Clark Gable playing the iconic criminal; it's as if Dillinger (or maybe even Depp) and Gable are being compared to each other.

The presence of antipodes is also typical for a Michael Mann film, so this one is not an exeption. During the film we see how Dillinger tries to do "wrong" and succeeds, while Purvis tries to do "good" and fails. And although in the end Dillinger dies, loses his friends and the love of his life, we still think of him as a winner.

The music and filming complete the picture, making the viewer feel as if he is part of the action, running alongside Dillinger in another police pursuit. All that combined with admirable historical accuracy (with minor alterations) and real crime scenes (for example, Depp breaks out of Dillinger's actual jail cell), truly makes the viewer feel a part of the show.

 There is no point discussing the plot more closely, because it is really not the most significant part of the movie. Still, the movie is absolutely worth your time watching it.

 Now showing in all three countries

Please enter your username and password.