Thursday, December 3, 2009

Public Enemies DVD



DVD Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Depp Does Dillinger on DVD


 This derivative head-scratcher’s biggest flaw rests with its failure to engage the audience emotionally in either John Dillinger’s (Johnny Depp) bloody crime spree or his wooing of a gullible hat-check girl (Marion Cotillard). For in lieu of character development, director Michael Mann has ostensibly opted to focus on crafting a grisly splatter flick featuring more Tommy Gun muzzle flashes per minute than we’ve witnessed in ages.

 The picture squanders the services of a couple of consummate thespians in Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. With Bale playing legendary lawman Melvin Purvis one would think that his dogged pursuit of Depp as Dillinger would make for some really riveting movie magic. Think again. The chase in this case is about as compelling as any nondescript, cop series action sequence you’d find by accident channel surfing with a TV remote.

 Equally-wasted is the rest of a stellar, A-list cast, starting with Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard (for La Vie en Rose) who unsuccessfully tests out a variety of unrecognizable accents as Dillinger’s devoted gun moll, Billie Frenchette. Then we have Billy Crudup who fails to do J. Edgar Hoover justice in an uncharismatic interpretation of the feared FBI founder, and Stephen Graham who comes off as a cartoonish clown impersonating trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson.

                Accentuating the positive for a moment, what Public Enemies does have to offer is an old-fashioned shoot ‘em up for filmgoers who enjoy that sort of mindless mayhem. More cerebral cineastes might find themselves offended by the way in which the production goes out of its way to paint Dillinger as an easy to root for folk hero with a code of honor and a lover that he remained faithful to.

Hyper-romanticized revisionist history reflecting America’s ongoing love affair with gangsters.


Fair (1.5 stars)

Rated R for profanity and gangland-style slayings.

Running time: 140 minutes

Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

DVD Extras: Commentary by director Michael Mann, “The Making of” documentary, several featurettes and more.

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