MONKEY REVIEW: Public Enemies

July 3, 2009

publicenemiesIn the initial stages of Public Enemies, Michael Mann’s near-classic film about the final days of John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), folk hero and bank robber extraordinaire in the early years of the Depression, it appears to be a strange combination of beautifully shot art film and vividly violent shoot-’em-up. As it progresses, however, it begins to draw subtle and powerful parallels between FBI head J. Edgar Hoover’s “War On Crime,” which brought Dillinger down, and our own modern day “War On Terror.” It also depicts the toll it took on FBI personnel, led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), who were pressured to deliver results. That Depp and Bale are excellent in their roles is almost a given, as they are two of our very best film actors, but their supporting cast is equally good, including Marion Cotillard as Dillinger’s girlfriend, Billie Frechette, and Stephen Lang as a Texas Ranger recruited for the Dillinger manhunt. The latter two actors share a powerful final scene together. Public Enemies is that rare combination of popular entertainment and high art, and one of the sole summer releases this year aimed at thinking adults.

MONKEY RATING: ONE MONKEY

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

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