In Johnny Depp’s latest film Public Enemies, we get another great performance from an actor who oozes charm and charisma into yet another role. Here he gets to play John Dillinger, the 1930’s bank robber/gangster. The movie is Michael Mann’s latest addition to a string of films of the law and lawless that started from his 1981 film Thief to such films as 1995’s Heat to 2004’s Collateral.
Here we get to see Dillinger’s last year, starting with the 1933 prison break at the Indiana State Penitentiary. This opening scene alone shows us Depp’s portrayal of Dillinger’s loyalty to his men, but also the viciousness he can show at the same time.
The driving force of the film displayed here could be thought to be the pursuit of Dillinger by Melvin Purvis, played according to Melvin’s son Alston to a tee down to the accent and mannerisms, but really is the love for coat-check girl Billie Frechette. Frechette is played by Oscar winning actress Marion Cotillard. Cotillard, who may be known more for her “9-11” remarks than her Best Actress winning role in 2005’s French film La Vie en Rose.
While Cotillard does well in this role, she at times doesn’t quite match up to Depp’s charisma, but none the less bodes well opposite of him. The rest of the supporting cast has some fimilar faces such as Billy Crudup, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, and a minor role for Leelee Sobieski towards the end.
Mann does a good job giving us the 1930’s depression feel and it shows in some of the scenes such as the beautifully shot nighttime prison transfer to Indiana. The movie runs fast paced, almost too much at times, and gives us a glimpse in the life of a gangster who can have a Robin Hood persona, while being a gentleman, and a true bad-ass at the same time.
Overall I enjoyed this film, but it just doesn’t reach the level Heat gave us to propel it to a truly memorable film, therefor I give it 3 out of 5 pitchforks.