Friday, August 07, 2009

Public Enemies Review



From the time I heard Public Enemies the new Michael Mann movie was starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale I knew this was going to be huge.I mean here we have two of the biggest cult actors in Hollywood.Depp mainly known for his Captain Jack Sparrow has been given some superb performances( Charlie and the Chocolate factory,Sleepy Hollow,Donnie Brasco) over the years.Christian Bale who became famous as the billionaire playboy crimefighter Bruce Wayne has also some acclaimed performances under his belt.(American Psycho,The Machinist,The Prestige).With these two actors of tremendous potential you have Michael Mann as director who has given some highly enthralling movies like Heat,The Insider,Collateral in the past.So with names such as these associated with Public Enemies expectations were always bound to be sky-high.I know you are thinking that the next sentence will be “But unfortunately the film fails to live up to the expectations.”You are right.It does fail.
Public Enemies is set during the Great Depression.it focuses on the true story of FBI agent Melvin Purvis's attempt to stop criminals John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd.I will not reveal the plot so as not to give away the story but just say this-There was every element in the story for this to be a great movie.It has a lot of similarities with one of Mann’s previous works Heat where Pacino and De Niro play the two men on two sides of law.That movie was superb.Where then does this movie fail?
1)The Dialogues-The dialogues are smart,crisp but nothing earth-shattering.Specially the scene between Bale and Depp.That scene required much more dialogues.And the ones used were frankly not good enough.The scene in Heat between De Niro and Pacino had some awesome dialogues.
2)The speed-The speed of the movie never really picked up.Even the actions scenes are not anything awesome,which is to be expected since this is set in 1933.In Heat the break-neck speed was a key factor contributing to the success of the movie.
3)Character Development-I felt both Dillinger and Purvis’s characters were sketchy and under-developed.Especially Melvin Purvis.When you make a movie about two real men a little character development is expected at least.
4)Not much scope for actors to strut their stuff.Johnny Depp is good as Dillinger and he does his best to churn out another noteworthy performance in a limited script.Christian Bale is under-used in the movie.He does what he has been asked to do quite well.But when you have two actors of the calibre of Depp and Bale you have got to use them better.
5)The Ending-I wont reveal the ending here,but I sort of found it a little lame.
When in a cops and robbers movie you cant get the audience to root for either the cop or the robber there is something wrong in the movie.Does it mean that Public Enemies is a bad movie?Not at all.It’s definitely worth a watch.It’s got all the facts correct.And it does display the Dillinger episode accurately.But it could have been a lot better if Mann would have taken some creative liberties.The element of drama is completely absent in the movie.
P.S- Johnny Depp really struggles in the romantic scenes.

8 comments:

Smoke, weed, novels and maths said...

Are yar, sorta let down. Have been waiting for the movie for soooooooo long.

But as you said- probably definitely worth a watch. Hope the 2 gods of Hollywood will not disappoint me now that my expectations are low.

Samadrita said...

Ok I didn't go through the summary of the movie..'cause I don't wanna harbor any prejudices.I'm going to watch it anyway.I mean a movie having Bale and Depp..is totally worth your money and time no matter how much it might suck.

Soumya said...

dying to watch this movie...!!

pomme said...

i think Purvis character express more by his action and his silence.Bale uses well his eyes(remember when Purvis undertands cops lost Billie)and looks really alone .It's true the script is underdevelopped on supporting characters(Purvis,Hoover and Billie)but that's still interesting when you see a 2nd time the movie.
My dad saw PE and he liked it but he prefered Purvis to Dillinger(too "likeable" for him,he miss cruelty)because it's a" pitbull with a suit" tortured and alone
PS:sorry for my bad english:i'm french

Nightwing said...

yeah i felt the same pomme...dillinger was too likable....moreover characters like baby-face nelson were way too underdeveloped.....bale was solid as purvis but i felt he was underused..the love story of john and billie consumed a lot of screen-time which could have been better used in developing more important characters like hoover,nelson and purvis....

Quintessence Of Illusion said...

This is one movie ive bn eagerly for..thnx fr d review.

Som...getting it off my chest!! said...

i watched PE today and i don't quite agree with you-maybe it's not as good as Heat, especially if you compare the Al Pacino-De Niro scene to the Bale-Depp one, but the speed was good-i don't think more pace would've served the movie well. Depp acts superbly...and so does Bale. Both use their eyes very well...maybe that makes up a bit for the dialogues. The action scenes are well set according to me, especially the car chase from the Little Bohemia lodge...and the camerawork is 9.5/10. Maybe Dillinger's break-up with the Mafia is a bit underfed...could've been shown better.But overall, Quite a good movie...i dint expect much more out of it!!

Atindriyo said...

It's impractical to compare Heat with Public Enemies......
That was a Cop-Chase movie, more the French Connection type......this one's a Gangster movie, more the Once Upon a Time in America type.....different genres.......