Though set in the stylish 30's, and with a well chosen soundtrack, this film didn't really have much depth. In typical Michael Mann fashion he spent the budget on making everyone look cool in their great suits and hats. History tells us that Dillinger (Johnny Depp) quite fancied himself as the public's hero, and I got the feeling that Depp actually looked like he was having a lot of fun playing the part. Billie (Marion Cottilard), Dillingers "girl", most probably knew John better than he did himself, and this was well done in the film. However, I felt that important points, like the formation of the FBI at the time and how the Dillinger problem played a part in that, the emergence of organised crime country-wide becoming fed up with him, and the likes of the nutter Baby-Face Nelson doing his Bugsy Malone bit, were almost like an afterthought for the script writer and director, dropped in occasionally as if remembering to give us a snippet of information from history. Dillinger was the last of his kind and this important fact was barely in the background. On the trail of Dillinger is Special Agent Purvis, played by Christian Bale. I would have probably bought his character more had it been played by someone else, but typically Bale's face has only one expression, that of a botox treatment gone badly wrong.
All this said and I did enjoy the movie I must say. The sets looked great, complete with a vast array of 30's cars, and the soundtrack was a definite hit. I was also interested to see how it would look, as it was shot on Sony High Definition digital cameras instead of film. As with all digital, lacking in a wide range of contrast shades as it does, a lot of scenes were very stark and bright, almost burnt out, and the pin sharp quality of Hi-Def makes it feel a little less like a movie. The colour was graded to give that 30's feel, which is more easily achieved in digital, but I kept feeling it was because they were trying to hide the fact it was digital video. Film is not dead by any means, and as a film maker myself I have to agree with the likes of Speilberg and Cameron; shoot on film then edit digitally.
On the whole Public Enemies is an enjoyable two hours of entertainment. It looks good but lacks depth, is disjointed in places and we learn nothing new. 7 out of 10.
There were a number of trailers before the film, and I have to say that I doubt I'll be going to the cinema over the summer! Thankfully I managed to avoid having a frontal lobotomy in my earlier years and subsequently now enjoy films with a little more to say than the likes of "GI Joe - Rise Of The Cobra" and "Final Destination - Death Trip 3D". I can't say I'll even spend my money on the new Tarrantino film "Inglorious Basterds" starring Brad Pitt. Hollywood really needs to wake up to the fact that audiences are more intelligent these days and start to release more quality and less trash movies. Yes they make good profit from the trashy movies from those audiences who have had a frontal lobotomy, but how about spending that money on something of higher value. They also have a growing tendency to remake movies of yesteryear, and I am dismayed to see that "The Taking Of Pelham 123" is to be released shortly, showing a distinct lack of original material.
If it's original material they're looking for, with good structure, strong storyline and a topical subject, then they should give me a call. That said though they probably couldn't afford me.