Public Enemies Michael Mann

Public Enemies Michael Mann
John Dillinger is one of the most notorious criminals in American history, alongside Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Al Capone. Dillinger's criminal legend paints him as a Robin Hood-like figure, stealing from rich, evil banks during America's great depression and freely spending his unearned cash during his time on the lamb. Michael Mann's Public Enemies eschews Hollywood's aggrandizement of "the outlaw," as seen in films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Young Guns and Scarface. But rather than giving audiences a nuanced look at the man behind the legend, the director gives us a middle of the road drama that lacks both action and character. Beginning with Dillinger (Johnny Depp) breaking his gang out of prison in order to start his bank robbing exploits, the film does little to delve into any of the history or motivations behind the criminal activities, instead skipping through various moments in his criminal career, juxtaposing them with Melvin Purvis's (Christian Bale) manhunt to capture America's most wanted. History is warped and twisted to fit the narrative, although to no particular dramatic effect. And although the director's commentary has details on how Dillinger's infamous bank robberies were intricately planned and carried out, there is little indication in the film that these heists were executed by anything other than a gang of gun wielding thugs. The special features are as disappointing as the film, with only a director commentary and a featurette, which has Johnny Depp and Christian Bale discussing the "real life" motivations of their characters, despite the fact that the story they are telling is not particularly based on fact. Strangely, there's not even a simple documentary on the real John Dillinger or any old newsreels, photo galleries, or FBI dossiers, which would have at least made the DVD slightly educational. Public Enemies isn't a crime/action movie, a heist/caper or a character drama. It hovers somewhere in-between the three genres, never finding its footing and ultimately failing to entertain. This won't be America's most wanted DVD this Christmas season. (Universal)