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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 March 2015
Perhaps I was not in the mood of yet another gangster movie (and that's what "Public enemies" felt like), but I was hugely disappointed. The script (although based on a true story of Robin Hood-esque bank robber, somewhat of a hero of people during Great Depression) felt recycled and too long. The film lacked tension and drama, there was no spark between Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard (what an unlikely couple!) and generally I could not feel any empathy towards any of the characters.

There is a lot of [loud!] shooting, but generally the film is dull, and at longer than 2 hours, felt a bit torturous towards the end.
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on 17 November 2009
This film stars a wonderful Johnny Depp who pretty much carries the film for most of its near 2 1/2 hours. It is visually stunning (with a few caveats, of which more later) often compelling, but there seems to be something missing. A lack of "back-story" is not the problem as Depp makes clear in his own mini auto-biography delivered to Billie "What more do you need to know?". It seems to be a problem with tempo and the development of drama. There are too many shoot-outs, too much of a concentration of the scenes dealing with character in the early part of the film, and too little organisation of the order of scenes, leaving the viewer with a film that lurches from one thing to another rather than allowing a dramatic line to unfold.

Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis plays a rather dull character, and Billy Crudup (who "Watchmen" fans might recognise despite his failure here to turn blue and expose his genitals) was more engaging and watchable, for me. But there is no real sense of a dynamic, dramatic conflict between Purvis and Dillinger. Marion Cotillard is quite good as Billie, without conveying much of what is supposed to make her relationship with Dillinger work. It is a film with lots of great scenes, which don't add up to a great whole. Most viewers will surely empathise with Dillinger (the aspect that he is more hated by much worse criminals than by ordinary citizens no doubt helps) but since towards the end he doesn't seem that bothered about what happens to him, it becomes harder for the viewer to care.

On the BD side, this film was shot on HD cameras (apparently the 35mm scenes were tests and did not make it into the film). This makes for outrageously good visuals at times. Winstead bending down to the pavement in close-up, or in the interrogation room with Billie are about as good as HD gets. Almost hyper-real in the sense of depth, plasticity and three-dimensionality. When Mann wants it so, the film showcases the format with natural colours, sharpness and brilliance of image. But at times there is quite heavy filtration, mainly yellow for darker, indoor scenes. And despite the much-heralded grain-free guarantee from going all digital, some of the night scenes have very aggressive digital noise which is more unsightly than most grainy night-time scenes I have recently seen. Audio quality, as another reviewer mentions, is a mixed bag. The soundtrack is 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio - DTS HD here appears to stand for Dialogue Towards Silence Hail-of-bullets Deafening. Every shotgun shell here would do duty for a nuclear explosion in many other films, while the dialogue is far too quiet. I was constantly adjusting volume, which was very annoying.

What remains is an entertaining but imperfect film which has a hollowness, the sense that something is missing and this prevents the film from being as great as Depp's performance deserves. As a BD the sound issue is annoying, but the picture quality is very good, bearing in mind the few caveats above. Worth a look, but don't put it top of your list.
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on 1 August 2010
I don't know what it is that's missing from this film but there's definitely something, Johnny Depp's pretty good, Christian Bale does his stock U.S. accent and Michael Mann could've left 15 minutes on the cutting room floor but what is actually missing, I'm not too sure.
If you want to watch something about this era of gangster, I'd recommend De Niro and Costner in The Untouchables or go right back to James Cagney but Public Enemies is a bit of a so what film.
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on 7 January 2015
Dillinger [DVD] - Seek out the 1970's Dillinger film with Warren Oates - see product link above -far superior to this rather woolly effort where Johnny Depp simply fails to convince in the lead role.
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2015
I watched this on Blu-ray disc. The first thing I noticed was that the dialogue was at times nearly inaudible, whilst the gunfire was absolutely deafening. Ridiculous, all that money and they can't get the sound balance right, unless you really want to hear deafeningly loud gunfire. The picture quality is superb, sharp, possibly the best Blu-ray disc I've seen. Unfortunately after a promising start, the film proceeds sluggishly. And it is far too long. The script should have been sharpened up a good deal. The acting is OK, no more. I became more and more bored as time went on. I've seen old black and white films depicting this era of Chicago gangsterism that are far more engaging (and shorter), and made on much smaller budgets than this. Beautiful cinematography, but that's not enough in itself to recommend this. A disappointment.
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on 17 November 2009
An enjoyable gangster flick with a good cast, Mann's latest effort is however no Goodfellas (or even Heat for that matter). We do get wonderful, believable performances from all, although Christian Bale's hotshot FBI agent far outshines Depp's Dillinger in my humble opinion. Stephen Lane also excels as Bale's quiet, cold as ice, hard as nails, second in command (with a heart of gold too it seems by the end of the film). It was also nice to see Stephen Graham make good use of his perfectly cast role as Baby Face Nelson. In general, I believe this movie certainly has enough weight and quality to reward repeated viewings.

However, I don't like the digital video process Mann has used in some scenes, and think they clash rather severely with the standard film stock shots (particularly in the nighttime shootout in the forest - an action packed highlight). They lack the warmth of 35mm, and any bright light sources seem to burn unpleasantly across the screen whenever digital video is used. I have a feeling that we'll just have to get used to it, as we have done for CGI effects - another step back in movie making IMO.

Blu-ray presentation is strong; image quality is excellent with superb detail, although a little inconsistent (grain level can change from shot to shot, and not just because of switching from video to film stock either). Colours are well defined, although (deliberately) muted and slightly sepia toned. Sound quality is hit and miss; dialogue is clear, but the surround treatment lacks a sense of space. Bass extension is also a little disappointing; the horse race scene almost promises to bring the thundering of hooves into the living room, but doesn't quite deliver. Gunfire however, does have a realistic crack and pop in the action scenes.

I found the disk took AGES to load into my Sony player - the longest I have ever experienced. Subtitles (of which there is a good choice), cleverly appeared at the side of the screen where the dialogue (or sound descriptions) were coming from, this must have taken some care and deserves credit. Mann's commentary is also worth a brief mention, although he seems to dote too much on the historic facts of the story rather than his film-making. Ironic, as there are many important factual errors in this telling of the tale. Whatever, he has plenty to say and most of it is interesting - there are no embarrassing silences either for a change.
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on 20 July 2010
As a big fan of Mr Depp, I can only assume that he had something better to do during the time he was making this film.
Little expense appears to have been spared on the production, but alas not to much effect.
I saw the film after having read the book on which it is based, and there for me lies the problem.
The book does not deal just with Dillinger , but tells the story of most of the mobile criminal fraternity,(as against the in-situ Chicago crowd) of which, during the 1930s Dillinger was only one.
He was however the man who most got up Hoover's nose, and as a result became the first of the FBI's infamous 'Public Enemies.'
The film fails to convey the chronic ineptitude of Hoover's G Men, and almost ignores Hoover's own schitzoid personality, which the book covers well.
On a purely personal note,I found the soundtrack narrative to be almost inaudible at times. Not conducive to understanding the plotline, nor to family harmony when I upped the volume too much to hear what was being said.
All in all, a big disappointment; I had expected much better!
If you have a genuine interested in this period of US history which produced not only Dillinger, but many like him, my advice is to read the book 'Public Enemies.'
It is far and away the best of it's kind, and is currently available. (See my review on Amazon)
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on 23 October 2014
As a fan of Mr. Mann, I was expecting something more imaginative. This is stylised as ever, but perhaps he should stick to contemporary LA rather than the mid-West of the 1930s, because here the visual flair is missing. Or rather, there is an attempt at visual flair, but without any engagement with the characters or plot one is left with an empty procession of sepia toned images, rather than a sense of action and drive.

The film tells the story of John Dillinger, but Depp seems miscast - perhaps he would make a better 'Pretty Boy' Floyd? The action sequences are predictably bullet ridden, but seem mechanical and derivative, albeit of the director's own best work; notably Heat. Amoral and shallow, this is not a film that lingers much in the memory.
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on 10 November 2009
I was very much looking forward to seeing this movie, My wife and I went to the Cinema with my brother and his wife. We were all very dissapointed, this film just has no heart, you don't care if they catch Dillenger or not, you don't really empathise with any of the characters and that means you dont have any emotional attachment to any character . This is such a weekness in some modern film, this hasn't always been the case with the film work of Michael Mann.
When Mann developed empathy towards characters in earlier films you cared who lived and who died. This brings out more tension and desire for a more satisfying ending. I really had no feelings towards any character, I wanted to but there was nothing there, it was totally devoid of emotion and soul. Maybe thats just a sad reflection of the times we live in. But it doesn't make it right.
Being filmed in Hi def was clearly evident as the image quality was stunning on the big screen, but towards the ending I was getting fed up of the obvious handhelp nature of the shooting of most of the film. Hi def works better in steady shots or slow panning camera movements. Jerky hi-def was difficult to follow and I was feeling eye strain by the time it was done. Public enemies could have been so much better.
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on 22 August 2014
For me three finer leading actors it would be difficult to find and they perform brilliantly in this film.

The supporting cast is faultless also. But who their characters were and what they were doing and who is shooting at who and just what the **** is going on half the time… is why it is three stars.

Had there been dialogue throughout that I could hear over the music and if there had been a better narrative I would have given five stars but there wasn’t so just the three.

To sum up a disappointing film given the talents of the leading and indeed of all the actors.
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