5 Second Review: Public Enemies

Michael Mann takes on one of America's most famous crooks, John Dillinger, with the help of Captain Jack Sparrow. Lets just hope he doesn't go all Miami Vice on us.


  • From the first shot of the movie, it's clear that the cinematography is really, really good. So good that it makes me want to use adjectives like 'gorgeous', but I'll resist that temptation.
  • Christian Bale shows admirable restraint himself, avoiding his usual 'growl-under-your-breath' style of acting.
  • As history buffs will already know, the story is pretty fascinating. Dillinger seemed to live life with one eye on a future movie incarnation, indulging in some fairly brazen escapades which lend themselves well to the silver screen.
  • Mann pulls no punches with the violence, despite the movie's fairly lax 15a rating. When these guys get shot, you feel it. No glorified movie action here.
  • Marion Cotillard is excellent, and manages to tread that fine line just between 'powerful' and 'overplaying it'.
  • The supporting roles are generally very well cast, particular mention must go to Billy Crudup as a surprisingly convincing J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Thankfully, this is not an example of style over substance, as has often been the case with Michael Mann movies. In fact, it's easily one of Mann's best efforts to date.

  • The film gets straight into the action, and while that's usually a good thing, the story itself suffers a bit from lack of development.
  • One of the first scenes in the movie features some bafflingly bad sound recording. How does that happen in a big movie like this?
  • While not being too precious with the source material, it seems like the writers were trying to fit too many real-life incidents into the movie. Again, the story and character development take a bit of a knock here.

While flawed, Public Enemies does well to satisfy both the true-crime nerds and the action/thriller fans. Michael Mann's hit-and-miss track record can chalk up another one in the former category.

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