Out on DVD: Public Enemies (15)By Anna Roberts
November 05, 2009
Set during the great depression of the 1930s, Public Enemies tells the story of bank robber John Dillinger.
Suave, sexy and confident Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is a criminal who, after organising a jailbreak which ends rather violently, moves from a farmhouse to Chicago where he is promised he will be sheltered by the Mafia and can live openly.
During his time in Chicago, Dillinger takes part in numerous bank raids and develops a large fanbase.
People admire him for his gall and willing. But for every aficionado he develops more than a few enemies too.
In fact he is America’s most wanted – hence the title of the film. FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), who kills his rival – has been given the task of tracking Dillinger down.
A ‘war on crime’ is launched and – in order to raise his status and that of the FBI – Purvis desperately seeks to track Dillinger, often at the expense of his colleagues.
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Two plots run parallel in Public Enemies. As Purvis attempts to track down his target, Dillinger meets the enchanting Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard).
She immediately captivates him and becomes “his girl”. Things are going well until Dillinger is captured and sent to prison – only to escape and a bloody series of gun battles ensure.
In many ways Public Enemies is basically just a series of gunfights after gunfights – rather tiresome.
Historically, 1930s America – Bugsy Malone proved this – is always interesting viewing.
The outfits are cool, the ambience is slightly seedy and there is ample room for bent cops wearing hats to hang around in shady corners.
Without doubt Depp is a great – and versatile – actor. He is different in every film he stars in, including Edward Scissorhands, The Pirates of The Caribbean franchise and now Public Enemies – and is obviously a huge draw.
Public Enemies also benefits from Oscar winner Cotillard who is lovely and sexy. However, it is flawed. There’s a lot of violence – fine if you like that sort of thing – and not a lot else. Worth viewing, but not the best film you will ever see.