Public Enemies

July 1st, 2009

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Public Enemies

Still of Michael Mann in Public EnemiesStill of Johnny Depp in Public EnemiesStephen Dorff and Marion Cotillard at event of Public EnemiesStill of Christian Bale in Public EnemiesStill of Johnny Depp in Public EnemiesStill of Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies

The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

Release Year: 2009

Rating: 7.0/10 (114,327 voted)

Critic's Score: 70/100

Director: Michael Mann

Stars: Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, James Russo

This is the story of the last few years of the notorious bank robber John Dillinger. He loved what he did and could imagine little else that would make him happier. Living openly in 1930s Chicago, he had the run of the city with little fear of reprisals from the authorities. It's there that he meets Billie Frechette with whom he falls deeply in love. In parallel we meet Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who would eventually track Dillinger down. The FBI was is in its early days and Director J. Edgar Hoover was keen to promote the clean cut image that so dominated the organization through his lifetime. Purvis realizes that if he is going to get Dillinger, he will have to use street tactics and imports appropriate men with police training. Dillinger is eventually betrayed by an acquaintance who tells the authorities just where to find him on a given night.

Writers: Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann

James Russo - Walter Dietrich
David Wenham - Harry 'Pete' Pierpont
Christian Stolte - Charles Makley
Jason Clarke - 'Red' Hamilton
Johnny Depp - John Dillinger
John Judd - Turnkey
Stephen Dorff - Homer Van Meter
Michael Vieau - Ed Shouse
John Kishline - Guard Dainard
Wesley Walker - Jim Leslie
John Scherp - Earl Adams
Elena Kenney - Viola Norris
William Nero Jr. - Toddler on Farm
Channing Tatum - Pretty Boy Floyd
Christian Bale - Melvin Purvis

Taglines: America's Most Wanted


Official Website: Official site [Spain] | Official site [France] |

Release Date: 1 July 2009

Filming Locations: Aurora, Illinois, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $25,271,675 (USA) (5 July 2009) (3334 Screens)

Gross: $97,030,725 (USA) (30 August 2009)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In preparation for his role as Melvin Purvis, Christian Bale met with Purvis's son, Alston, and several close friends of the real Melvin Purvis in order to learn his attitudes, mannerisms, and speech patterns. By the same token, Johnny Depp went to the John Dillinger Museum in Indiana and was allowed to read some of his letters. According to Depp in the DVD documentary, he even tried on the pants Dillinger wore the night he was shot. With a laugh, Depp says the pants fit him perfectly.

Anachronisms: Throughout the movie many buildings are seen with double paned tempered glass and aluminum window frames. Most notably the FBI planning meeting across the street from the Biograph takes place in front of a large storefront with two large panes forming a corner joint with no framing. All windows of the period were single pane.

John Dillinger: I was raised on a farm in Moooresville, Indiana. My mama ran out on us when I was three, my daddy beat the hell out of me cause he didn't know no better way to raise me. I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey, and you... what else you need to know?

User Review

Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow

Rating: 5/10

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 scene.

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 serious film.

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.

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