Wednesday, July 1, 2009
During the current deep recession, we all already know (or lost track of) how much tax payers' money have been poured into major banks. Those bank CEOs become shameful figures in public eyes. That makes robbing a bank almost a heroic act, hardly criminal. After all, the bankers have been doing that, just without a gun. Intended or not, that's precisely the tone of director Michael Mann's action thriller "Public Enemies" (USA 2009 | 140 min.), about a bank robber's surreal tales during the Great Depression.
John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is a legendary bank robber during the Great Depression in Midwest. FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) is hand-picked by Edgar Hoover to capture John Dillinger. However, John Dillinger seems able to elude FBI's hunt miraculously and carries on a romantic relationship with Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) in and out expensive restaurants, when he is not robbing another bank. John Dillinger is named the Public Enemy Number One, but the "public" really just means the FBI that Hoover is trying to advance.
Johnny Depp brilliantly portraits John Dillinger as a handsome, charming, intelligent, loyal, determined, and brave young man. He appears more as an action hero figure, who will do everything for his love, than as an outlawed conman. No wonder Billie falls in love with him despite his high profile as a most wanted criminal.
On the contrary, Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis as a dull, arrogant, cold agent who further direct public's sympathy to John Dillinger. Luckily, the Texas Ranger character Charles Winstead (Stephen Lang) adds much needed intelligence to the law enforcement.
The film is entertaining and captivating for the most part, even with its formulaic story development. It brings John Dillinger's story back to life when the American sinks into another deep recession.
However, just don't try to mimic what John Dillinger did, even we all know who are the true public enemies.