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Who was John Dillinger? We all know he was a flamboyant criminal who
robbed banks, but who WAS he? The question of who Dillinger WAS is far
more interesting than the question of what Dillinger DID, but this
film, sadly, chose only to concentrate seriously on the latter and gave
up almost immediately on the former.
This film goes out of its way--with a poor grasp of history's
time-line, by the way--to show us what Dillinger did and who he hung
around with, but it does next to nothing to explore who Dillinger was
as a person or even as a criminal. It hints that Dillinger might be a
passionate lover and loyal friend, but shows us little evidence aside
from a few thrown-together seduction scenes (which make his
girlfriend/heroine look like a dim-witted pushover) and an awkward love
Even Dillinger's foil, Melvin Purvis, is a mystery in Mann's hands. Did
he care about justice at all, or was he just a fascist on a personal
crusade? Was he competent in the least or was he just a bumbling idiot?
Squinty-eyed stares can only convey so much, after all.
Michael Mann seems to be in a terrible hurry to tell this story, as he
is stuck between the rock of having to relate a relatively complete
"crime-ography" of a notorious American gangster and the hard place of
keeping the movie shorter than 2 1/2 hours.
As a result, a beautifully shot and edited movie that had a lot of
promise ends up little more than a dumb, shoot-'em-up action movie
wearing the fedora of "historical romance." Good for a date, but not a
Grade: C+. Things to look for: Mann's ham-handed and laughably obvious
political commentary on the use of torture about 2/3 of the way through
the movie; psychotically trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson well-played by
Stephen Graham; cool old products (Zenth radio); great fashion sense.
Tags for Public Enemies Full Movie
, David Wenham
, Jason Clarke
, Johnny Depp
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