“Public Enemies” Is Bad Movie-Making

NOT Johnny Depp.

With 2 high-profile actors and a storyline that has been told several times before, “Public Enemies” entered theaters boasting something different for this summer season…an adult drama without tons of special effects. Which would be great if it were interesting. But it’s not. So that’s a huge problem. And a disappointing problem at that because how a movie about bank robber John Dillinger could possibly be this boring and predictable is beyond me.

First off, whoever hired Michael Mann to direct this film should be fired. And then the writers should be fired. And then whoever produced this film should be fired just because. I went into this film with very low expectations. I’m not really a gangster film kind of guy (NOT a fan of “The Godfather” series. DO like “Scarface”. You figure it out…), but I am a fan of Johnny Depp & Christian Bale, and for the most part, these guys do a decent job with what they are given. But there is surprisingly very little for them to do considering the pacing and the dialogue that was written for them.

The story of Dillinger is not a new one. He robbed banks, but never individuals. He was faithfully loyal to his friends and he was loved by the public in the days of the Great Depression. There is a great story in there, unfortunately this movie chooses not to tell it. Instead there are several scenes of shootouts and robberies and more shootouts. But they never really move the story forward in any way. And then the film attempts to be a love story, but that fails miserably when Dillinger is locked out of Chicago while his girlfriend is stranded in her apartment and watched 24 hours a day. And then there is the competition to catch Dillinger, with Edgar Hoover (played by Billy Crudup) & Melvin Purvis (Bale) leading the charge against crime. Their attempts to catch the famous crook has the entire crime world in an uproar and they also conspire to rid themselves of Dillinger. All of this could have been made very suspenseful and action-packed. But what we get is a bunch of poorly edited shootouts and hand-held camera action that left me feeling like John Dillinger might have been one of the most boring gangsters EVER.

As a matter of fact, there was NOTHING about this film that made me slightly interested in Dillinger himself. Usually you see a “biographical” film and you know it will be somewhat fictitious, but here the entire thing was so boring and drawn out that I have no interest in even knowing the true story behind the guy. What the filmmakers SHOULD have done was introduce us to Dillinger LONG before he became a robber. Why did he do what he did? Instead, we get plopped right into the middle of his life and have no idea why he became the person that he was. And we never really get to know anything about him other than that he wants everything…right now! And the script doesn’t hold up so we never know whether we should root for the guy or even care if he gets caught.

Needless to say, this movie was a complete failure on every level (Except for the soundtrack…which featured a large amount of songs by Billie Holiday).  Not even worth your time until it ends up on TBS…

Overall Rating: D


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