Public Enemies (2009)

Public Enemies is a movie directed by Michael Mann and starring Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale and Billy Crudup [and Faramir David Wenham and Giovanni Ribisi in mini-roles].

Public Enemies follows the last years in the life of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), famous bank robber who managed to be highly popular with the general public because he seemed like Robin Hood to them.

The movie was incredibly disappointing. Such an amazing cast and then what’s left is a confusing pile of explosions and shoot-outs. Half of the time I didn’t know what was going on and the other half I was bored.


I didn’t know much about Dillinger going into the movie and I left without knowing anything more. Mann obviously considers everything general knowledge and therefore doesn’t bother introducing Dillinger or his men. Okay, going into the movie you probably know that Johnny Depp plays Dillinger and that he was a bank robber so I can live without that explanation.

But his men? I’ve heard most of the names at some point in my life, but I have no idea who these people were. And without a proper introduction, the different “henchmen” kept blurring into each other (although I knew most of the actors), were dropped without comment and were generally pretty pointless.

In fact, in the scene were Dillinger goes to visit the Dillinger squad (which is my second favourite scene of the whole film), we see pictures of everybody, most with a deceased stamp on them. I saw this and was like, “what? when did that happen?”


Apart from that, which was as much the fault of the screenplay (by Michael Mann) as the director (Michael Mann), the screenplay in general sucked ass. First, the characterisation was pretty much, “is it a stereotype? Great! If it isn’t, we don’t want it!” The only one to get a little profile was Dillinger himself, but even with him it was strangely lacking.

Marion Cotillard’s Billie and Christian Bale’s Purvis stayed shallow characters and neither Cotillard nor Bale deserved that. My favourite scene was when Purvis visits Dillinger in prison because it was the only scene Christian Bale actually got to play at all.

Billy Crudup’s J. Edgar Hoover was pretty awesome, but unfortunately he had a screen time of about 5 minutes.


Then there was this scene when Dillinger goes after Billie: After one date, he follows her to her work place to steal her away by telling her that she has no choice and that she’s his girl now. And then this one guy dares to interrupt to ask Billie to do her job and Dillinger promptly beats him up.

And I couldn’t shake the feeling that we, the audience, were supposed to find that scene romantic. Dillinger behaves like the utter psycho he actually is (Johnny Depp is awesome, as usual) and that’s how he sweeps Billie of her feet? Seriously?  That really freaked me out.

Contrary to popular belief psychopaths who beat other people up are not sexy and every girl’s dream. Neither are guys who tell you that you don’t have a choice but to be with them. Trust me on this.


The film was shot digitally, which I didn’t mind. Actually, I think it gives the images an awesome sharpness. But sometimes, when you have quick light switches, the image gets kind of blurred when shot digitally. And they could have corrected that. It really bugged me.

So, summarising: Despite the cast a movie not worth watching.

Dear Christian Bale,

you know I’m a huge fan. But please, could you stop making crappy movies? How about a nice little indie production again? Your last one was I’m Not There and that’s already two years ago.

You could drop Terminator 5 to make room in your busy schedule.

Actually, you should drop Terminator 5. Terminator 4 was crap, why should 5 be any different?

Honestly, whoever chooses your roles for you (if you don’t do it yourself) should be fired. If you choose them yourself, hire someone to do it for you. [I might be available.]

Anyway, stay sexy.


7 thoughts on “Public Enemies (2009)

  1. the big trouble is Depp in Dillinger,he’s totally demotived,all i saw is Depp with a hat and a nice suit!He’s flat and i don’t understand Why there isn’t more screen time with Bale ,Crudup and cops because theirs characters are very interesting

  2. I agree – I was the only one in my group of friends who knew the John Dillinger story, so I think I “got” it and they didn’t, but it still dragged.

    Speaking of “drag” – notice how you never saw J Edgar Hoover’s feet? Sporting a sparkly pair of pumps under the desk, perhaps?? :)

  3. Pingback: Leaves of Grass (2009) « Stuff

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