With all the pomp and ceremony that recent fat cat summer blockbusters have subjected onto the public of late, I’m thinking of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it’s easy to forget the non-CGI forms of movie entertainment. The long anticipated Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as real life bank robber, John Dillinger, Christian Bale as FBI tough nut, Melvin Purvis, and Oscar winner, Marion Cotillard as Dillinger’s girlfriend, Billie Frechette, in a glossy depression-era Chicago riddled with gangsters and a sure crowd pleaser.
Dillinger was a notorious bank robber in the early 1930’s. His criminal activity was sensationalized to such an extent that his two dozen or more bank robberies, murder of several police men, and jail escapes were seen as Robin Hood antics rather than that of an extremely dangerous criminal. Hollywood of course loves to romanticize about murderous gangsters and director Michael Mann continues in that vein, depicting a depression-era Chicago of ornate banks with high ceiling interiors and stylish suits for his great looking cast.
Dillinger is released from prison after a nine-year stint. He moves to Chicago where he meets hatcheck girl, Billie Frechette (Cotillard). It takes a while for her to succumb to his charms but succumb she does. The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) sends out his footman, Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), to run Dillinger into the ground. Depp plays Dillinger as a super cool fellow, parallel opposites to James Cagney‘s manic gangster in 1931’s fictional story, The Public Enemy.
Johnny Depp at the French Premier
Marion Cotillard at the French Premier