Movie Review: Public Enemies

Public Enemies
Directed by Michael Mann
Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum
Rated R
Release date: July 1, 2009

Michael Mann is one of our best modern masters when it comes to weaving elaborate and starkly realistic cinematic tales of cops and criminals. There is very little black and white in his world. The characters in Mann’s crime dramas who work on opposite sides of the law are always portrayed as equals, and often as shadows of one another. Instead of the musty pulp novels, mildewed comic books, and scratchy 16mm film prints that fuel the imagination of Quentin Tarantino, another filmmaker well versed in making virtuoso action films, Mann, like fellow filmmaking contemporary Martin Scorsese, finds his inspiration in the real-life exploits of the modern day outlaws and the law enforcement officials sworn to bring them in.

His big-screen crime stories (and the various classic television series he has been partly or fully responsible for, such as Miami Vice and Crime Story) are powered by an engine of ruthless intelligence and feelings of isolation and loneliness. In his films you could tell Mann’s sympathies often resided with the criminals instead of the police, who were usually portrayed as being ready and able to go beyond the limits of the law to nab their quarry, but Mann could not be accused of glorifying the criminal lifestyle. His thieves and assassins were coolly professional in their work but emotionally distant from the rest of the world. They had the world at their feet but never chanced enjoying the ill-gotten fruits of their labor for fear of breaking the carefully constructed code that reduced their risk of being arrested by the authorities or even cut down in a hail of gunfire. We liked them for who they were even if we could not condone what they did. Mann did not judge either. He just showed things for how they could be. At the end of his crime stories his criminal anti-heroes usually ended up dead or alone as a result of venturing outside their own limits to have a taste of life, and most importantly love.

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10 Charismatic Bad Guys In Film
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In the new crime biopic Public Enemies, Johnny Depp stars as John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber who became Public Enemy #1 in 1930s in the United States in the beginning years of the J. Edgar Hoover-led FBI. During the Great Depression, the real-life Dillinger was a two-time escaped convict who not only pulled two dozen bank heists across the MidWest, but murdered several police officers and led a dangerous gang of unsavory characters.

But in the film, we see a different side to this criminal underworld figure, one of a graceful, charismatic man. Depp’s character is someone you can actually believe was able to woo his beautiful young girlfriend into total devotion and get a gang of ruthless thugs to give him respect as their leader.

It’s the combination of Dillinger’s supervillain-like abilities and Depp’s charming portrayal of this machine gun-toting crime lord that makes this on-screen character so alluring. But this role of the bad guy with likable charm isn’t a new one, though, there’s been plenty in cinematic history. Here’s a look at 10 Charismatic Bad Guys in Film.


Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects brought us so much as a movie. It exposed Bryan Singer to the mainstream, collated a lot of stars in a great ensemble cast (including one of Stephen Baldwin’s few good performances)… but most of all it brought us Keyser Söze.

Söze’s involvement in the criminals’ dealings is never actually confirmed at any point in the movie — everything we hear or see about him is pure conjecture. And this is what makes the character such a great bad guy. Verbal Kint describes him perfectly in the following sentence:

“Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power.”

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Contest: ‘Public Enemies’ Prize Pack
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See here, mug. We pinched us some sweet kitty right off the set of one a’ dem moving pictures. We got a hat for your melon, a poster to pretty up that mess of a hidey hole, and some cloth covers for your getaway getup. Ya get me? We know what you’ve been upta… don’t think we can turn a blind eye to your goings on for much longer, so git before I sic one a my molls on ya.

One (1) winner will receive:

  • One (1) Public Enemies Movie Poster
  • One (1) Public Enemies Hat
  • One (1) Public Enemies T-Shirt
  • One (1) Public Enemies Long Sleeve Shirt

What do you have to do to get a chance to win? Glad you asked ’cause it’s really easy. Just make sure you’re a subscriber to our email digest, and then go ahead and fill out the handy dandy form below. Done.

Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, opens in theaters on July 1, 2009!

Good luck!

TO ENTER: There’s just two simple steps: (1) Make sure you’re subscribed to the Geeks of Doom email digest. If you’re not then click here and sign up. (If you’re already a subscriber, then go right to the next step.) (2) Fill out the entry form here below and submit. (Form is here after the jump.)

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New ‘Public Enemies’ Images
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Universal has released new images from Public Enemies, the Depression-era crime drama starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Marion Cotillard.

From director Michael Mann, Public Enemies tells the true-life story of notorious bank robber John Dillinger, whose actions made him the prime target of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (played by Bale). Cotillard plays Dillinger’s girlfriend Billie Frechette, while Billy Crudup stars as Hoover.

Public Enemies hits theaters on July 1, 2009.

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New ‘Public Enemies’ Trailer & Images
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During this year’s Oscar ceremony’s final credits, some clips from big movies of 2009 were shown; one of those movies was for Michael Mann‘s newest movie — Public Enemies — which stars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Up until that clip, all we had to excite us was information and a bunch of different images from the movie. That was all just a tease, though, as now we have our first look at the full trailer, and it does indeed look worth the wait. Included with the trailer is a bunch of new images and a new poster as well.

The trailer is really pretty simple: a lot of a very smooth Johnny Depp, a little bit of determined Christian Bale, a googly-eyed Marion Cotillard, some bank robbing, and best of all, the promise of some great cat and mouse action; all of this with that period 1930s back drop. If that little slick combination doesn’t already have you sold, then this movie probably isn’t for you. This isn’t to say we know whether or not it’s good or bad, but man, this mixture of story, time period, and talent would be really hard to fail with.

Click on over for full synopsis, images and the sweet trailer!

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