Release Date: July 1st, 2009
Click here for the Public Enemies Trailer.
In the early 1930's, America has sunken into the Great Depression. Money is scarce and crime is at an all time high thanks to famous bank robbers like Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger.
In an Indiana prison lies key members of a gang lead by John Dillinger(Johnny Depp). Being a loyal man, Dillinger stages a daring rescue and gets all bu one of his friends out alive except for his friend Walter Dietrich(James Russo) who was killed during the escape. Dillinger, along with his gang, flees the prison and holds up at a local farm where the gang gets some food and changes clothes. The gang then leaves Indiana and heads to Chicago knowing that the Chicago police aren't after them and that the Indiana police can't arrest the gang in Chicago.While in Chicago, Dillinger and his gang decide to make a little money and rob a few banks. Dillinger's plans are always in order. Three men, Dillinger, Charles Makley(Christian Stolte), and Harry Pierpoint(David Wenham) enter the bank and rob it while Homer Van Meter(Stephen Dorff) acts as a look out outside the bank and John "Red" Hamilton(Jason Clarke) awaits in the getaway car. The gang only robs from the bank itself and never takes any money from the patrons inside. Dillinger and his gang knock over a few banks and lay low.
In the meantime, J. Edgar Hoover(Billy Crudup), administrator of the Bureau of Investigation is putting together a special team lead by Agent Melvin Purvis(Christian Bale) to track down and arrest all known criminals starting with John Dillinger and his gang while Dillinger and his crew spend their nights after robbing the banks attending high class Chicago parties. At one of the parties Dillinger meets Billie Frechette(Marion Cotillard), a coat check girl who Dillinger immediately falls in love with. Dillinger then takes Billie to a very fancy restaurant where he meets an old associate of his. The man introduces Dillinger to Frank Nitti(Bill Camp) who is Al Capone's right hand man and the under boss in Chicago. Nitti tells Dillinger that he wants to talk with him more and Dillinger and his gang go down to Miami with Nitti. While staying in Miami, Dillinger and his gang are ambushed and arrested. The police fly Dillinger back to Indiana where he is to stand trial. The prosecutor wants to send Dillinger to the State Penitentiary, claiming that the jail he is in now is not sufficient enough to hold him and his gang. Dillinger tells his attorney and friend to stall the transfer long enough for him to break out of jail. He does so and Dillinger starts making his plans.
Using a fake wood pistol, Dillinger fools the guards and manages to break out of the prison. Dillinger is back on the run and closely pursued by Purvis who is always one step behind. Purvis thinks he has a lead on Dillinger and goes in to make the arrest. But instead of finding Dillinger they find George "Baby Face" Nelson(Stephen Graham) who kills one of Purvis' agents and flees. Dillinger regroups with his gang and they stage their next robbery. But the gang is shorthanded and they need help. Going against their rule of not working with the crazy or desperate, they inquire the help of George "Baby Face" Nelson who was an admirer of Dillinger and who also was a dangerous and crazed killer/robber. Nelson tells the group of a bank holding around $800,000, the biggest hit they would have made. When they break into the bank, everything goes smoothly until Baby Face sees a motorcycle police officer pull up across the street, oblivious to what is going on inside he bank. George decides to shoot and kill the cop which attracts the attention of the rest of the police. When the gang leaves, the see officers disguised as civilians pull out weapons and open fire on the gang. They manage to escape but not before George opens fire on innocent civilians. The gang, who has lost even more members due to the gunfight, make their way to the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Wisconsin to hold up for the night.
At the lodge, the gang discovers that the hit was only around $26,000 instead of $800,000 like George promised. Dillinger tells his partner "Red" Hamilton that first thing in the morning they need to ditch George and head out of town. But before they can leave Purvis, having been tipped off by a member of Dillinger's gang who was captured after being presumed dead, shows up with his agents and opens fire on the lodge. Dillinger and his gang escape with Dillinger and Hamilton going one way and Nelson, Homer Van Meter, and another member going a different way. Thinking they are following Dillinger, Purvis and some of his men follow Baby Face while some other agents, who were flanking through the woods follow Dillinger and Hamilton. During the chase, Hamilton is shot and eventually dies as the two flee the agents. Purvis catches up with Nelson and the others who flipped their car while escaping. Purvis and his men gun down Nelson, Van Meter, and the third gang member. Dillinger then makes his way back to Chicago to find Billie. He does and the two go away to a safe house. What they don't know is that the safe house is filled with Purvis' agents. Dillinger sends Billie in and she is immediately captured and arrested. Dillinger watches her being taken away, knowing he can do nothing to save her.
After receiving a letter form Billie telling Dillinger not to break her out, Dillinger meets up with his friend and criminal Alvin Karpis(Giovanni Ribisi) who asks for Dillinger's help in robbing a train carrying money to the U.S. Reserve totaling over $1 million. Dillinger agrees and Karpis makes the plans. That day, Dillinger meets up with his friend Anna Sage(Branka Katic) and his new girlfriend Polly Hamilton(Leelee Sobieski) and decides to take them out to the movies. What Dillinger doesn't know is that Anna had been approached by Purvis who threatened her with deportation back to Romania if she didn't cooperate. She told Purvis she would inform him when Dillinger would be taking them out. She tells Purvis that they are going to a movie either at the Biograph Theater or another theater. Purvis splits his team with himself and other agents going to the Biograph and the other half going to the other theater. When Anna is identified by the clothing she told Purvis she would where, the agents get ready. Purvis waits at the entrance of the theater, telling his men he will light his cigar when he spots Dillinger. The agents await in the shadows for Dillinger to leave the show. When they spot Purvis lighting his cigar they move in, leading to the final confrontation between Purvis and Dillinger.
Not too many movies are made in the era of the Great Depression but the ones that are certainly are good. This movie was highly anticipated by critics and movie goers alike and I know I was definitley excited fir it, and for good reason, this movie was good. Depp was phenomenal as the famed criminal John Dillinger. Depp had this swagger about him that clearly showed his carefree attitude. You really got a sense of who John Dillinger was and why he did what he did. If anyone can make being a criminal cool, it is Johnny Depp as John Dillinger. This is definitley one of Depp's best performances. I was surprised by Christian Bale's performance, pleasantly surprised. Bale's character was a calm, cool southern gentleman sort of character and Bale did a nice job of portraying that sense of justice and peace that his character had. The story mainly focused on Dillinger and Purvis, which didn't leave much time for the other characters. aside from those two, the only characters with extended screen time were Billy Crudup who played J. Edgar Hoover and Marion Cotillard who played Billie Frechette. Although there was a good supporting cast behind these people that included David Wenham, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, and Stephen Graham.
The story was interesting and exciting, following the fast paced life of John Dillinger and the action was definitley top-notch. There was car chases, prison breaks, and shootouts galore in this film so it never left you with a dull moment. The main story aside from the action did lack a little in enthusiasm but if you pay attention it proves to be a moving story. This movie is based off of a non-fiction book written by Bryan Burrough entitled Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. The acting was good and the story was great. i really liked Depp's performances and the way they made Dillinger appear invincible. They did this by putting Dillinger through all the shootouts and prison breaks and in certain scenes. My favorite scene is when Dillinger takes his girlfriend to downtown Chicago to get her waitress license. She has to go into the Chicago Police department to get it and Dillinger bravely walks in with her. He then walks upstairs into a room completely dedicated to finding him and his gang. He walks around the people gathering evidence about him and looks at the board describing him and his now dead gang members. He even walks up to a group of cops listening to a baseball game and asks what the score is, then he leaves. This scene, for me, showed the guts Dillinger had and how brave he was. It was kind of like a superiority complex for him, going in and saying "I'm right here and you don't even know it."
All in all this movie was good. It had a great story, fantastic action, and magnificent performances, especially by Depp. If you are a fan of Depp or you just like good movies than I highly recommend you see this film. I give Public Enemies 9 Daring Bank Robberies out of 10.
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