Director Michael Mann does love his crime dramas. I have to admit, I love watching them. So when he revealed that he was going to tackle the story of bank robber John Dillinger, I was excited. This seemed like a great combination of period film and crime drama. Could this be Last of the Mohicans meets Heat?
John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is at the top of his game. He can rob banks in less than two minutes. He’s adored by the public for his dashing ways and his mantra of only taking the government’s money, not the people’s money. He lives by the Tommy gun and doesn’t care who knows it. Thing is, he’s gotten pretty darn famous in the process. This leads him to get a bit overconfident when he meets Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), who he just assumes will fall head over heals for him. Well, it takes a bit of work but Billie comes around.
Meanwhile J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) is not amused. He makes sure that Dillinger is public enemy number one and he sends his top agent after him. Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) made a name for himself taking down Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum), so he knows how to catch gun happy criminals. But Dillinger is crafty and Purvis’ resources aren’t up to the challenge. The world is changing fast, and Dillinger may find that being one of the Public Enemies is nothing but a ticket to a bloody death.
- Amazing production design and costumes, to pull you back in time
- Some taut and thrilling action scenes
- The acting by the whole cast is a perfect fit
- The script never nails down whose story it is trying to tell
- There is a grim oppressive mood to the whole film
- The script takes some major liberties with history
From a visual stand point this movie is worth checking out. Mann creates some memorable moments and the period detail is impressive. The acting is a nice showcase too. But the script is the real problem. You never get pulled into either Dillinger or Purvis, and the result is a cold film. Combined with the oppressive atmosphere the movie just never really grabs you. Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high, but I think this ended up being a missed opportunity.
Scores (out of 5)
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