Public Enemies

Release Date: July 1, 2009

Movie of the Day for Wednesday, April 1, 2009
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I don't usually look this clean-cut!

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
28/38 John Seal Bloody (yet curiously bloodless) biopic doesn't hit on all cylinders
40/82 Kelly Metz Note to Michael Mann: you don't have to have a close-up of *every* character in *every* scene. Incredibly boring.
72/169 Max Braden Decent, but ultimately forgettable in the shadow of Heat. Stephen Lang is great as one of the lawmen.

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Adapted from an exhaustive nonfiction account of the wars between the fledgling FBI and the all-powerful gangsters of the 1930s, Michael Mann’s Public Enemies pits Johnny Depp as John Dillinger against Christian Bale’s FBI Agent Melvin Purvis. So it’ll be Batman vs. Captain Jack Sparrow, with tommy guns. That’s probably all you need to know, but I’ll go on.

The power and influence of Dillinger and cronies like Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson was nearly unmatched in the early 1930s, and the young and somewhat disorganized Federal Bureau of Investigation was outmatched in trying to keep them in check. Organizational reform under J. Edgar Hoover as well as the grit of agents like Purvis led to many of the key mafia figures of the time – the titular Public Enemies – finally winding up in jail, at least temporarily, or dead, permanently.

The film’s script, adapted from the painstaking book by Bryan Burrough, has been touted as one of the most accurate portrayals of the time period and the war between feds and gangsters. Several scenes were shot in entirely accurate locations, including the use of the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin (the site of a gunfight between Dillinger and the FBI,) and the alley outside of Chicago’s Biograph Theater, where Dillinger was shot and killed.

Michael Mann is looking to bounce back from 2006’s Miami Vice remake. That film grossed less than half of its gargantuan $135 million production budget domestically, and was not particularly well received by critics. While Public Enemies sports a slightly lower $80 million price tag, Universal is certainly hoping for a hit with this one. Mann has only crossed the century mark once domestically – 2004’s Collateral pulled in $101 million – but I need not remind you of the box office wizardry of Depp and Bale.

Rounding out the impressive cast list are Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, Billy Crudup, Stephen Graham, Leelee Sobieski, and Emilie de Ravin. Film score aficionados will be pleased to learn that Public Enemies reunites Michael Mann with Oscar-winner and Heat composer Elliot Goldenthal. (Sean Collier/BOP)

Vital statistics for Public Enemies
Main Cast Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard
Supporting Cast David Wenham, Stephen Graham, Billy Crudup, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, Adam Mucci, Stephen Lang, Shawn Hatosy, Emilie de Ravin, James Russo, Leelee Sobieski
Director Michael Mann
Screenwriter Ronan Bennett, Ann Biderman
Distributor Universal Pictures
Screen Count 3,334
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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