Sunday, 6 June 2010

Film Review: PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)

Director: Michael Mann
Running time: 140 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

UK Release Date: 1st July 2009

Watched on DVD Sunday 6th June 2010.


I haven’t seen a gangster movie set in the 1930’s for quite some time and so I was interested to see Michael Mann’s take on the genre. It wasn’t quite what I expected; it’s very long and goes into a lot of detail about the life and times of the main protagonist, John Dillinger. But here’s a little about the plot before I continue.

We begin in 1933 with John Dillinger busting his gang out of prison. An audacious act that gets J.Edgar Hoover, the head of the F.B.I., to assign a task force, lead by Melvin Purvis, to track him down. Several bank raids later, Dillinger meets and falls in love with Billie Frechette, a half French, half Native American girl. They are soon parted as Purvis and his team close in on the gang. There is a lot more, and a few other noted gangsters of the period do turn up in the narrative, but those are the main points of the film.

As we’d expect with a Michael Mann film, this one is technically very well done. Lots of shoot-outs, bank heists and car chases all very professionally performed. As far as performances go, I thought Johnny Depp as Okay as John Dillinger and Christian Bale did a good job as Melvin Purvis. I thought Marion Cotillard as woefully underused as Billie Frechette, although we did see what she can do briefly towards the end of the film.

Over all I found it far too long with scenes that started to drag towards the end. It’s an interesting story that could have been done so much better. I didn’t really engage with any of the characters, I found them all a bit two dimensional apart from maybe Billie Frechette. So I’m afraid it’s not really recommended, but if you’ve got a spare 140 minutes to kill, maybe it’s for you.

My score: 5.4/10

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