Sunday, 5 July 2009

Public Enemy - Review

Michael Mann does shoot-outs like no one else and the gun play in this movie is superb. Set in the 1930's during the Great Depression the film evokes the period well although the poverty of the time is largely overlooked.

John Dillinger was Public Enemy Number One and he's brought to life by Johnny Depp in one of his finest performances to date.

This is just a snap shot of Dillinger's life with much of his history omitted, focusing on the period after he broke his gang out of jail in 1933. Much of the facts are inaccurate but the film does a good job of capturing the anti-hero appeal of Dillinger's crime spree.

The first half hour of the movie left me cold and the sound and editing left a lot to be desired but once you're past that hurdle the film kicks into gear and you start to like Depp's Dillinger and his live for today ethic.

Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis the man charged by J. Edgar Hoover with taking Dillinger down. Bale is Bale but you never see enough of the character to feel much about him. Mann clearly want a play off between his two leads but it never hits the heights of Heat largely because Depp gets all the charismatic moments. As a result you end up rooting for Dillinger, rather than rooting for them both.

So not flawless then. But the last hour is an hours worth of great film making and the soundtrack is a perfect score to the action throughout.

Mann does Tommy Guns. And their rat tat tat help to bring the end of Dillinger's story to life in all it's ill gotten glory. The ultimate 1930's cops and robbers movie for sure.

4/5