Thursday, February 4, 2010

Public Enemies (Not so Number One)

Public Enemies - (2 1/2 Stars)

I was excited to see Public Enemies as soon as I discovered that it would star Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. The more I heard about the movie, the more interested I was. When I finally had the opportunity to watch it I expected a well-written, well-acted story of "cat and mouse." Unfortunately, despite how much I tried to enjoy Public Enemies, I was left feeling disappointed.

Based on the book by Bryan Burroughs, Public Enemies tells the story of public folk hero and bank robber John Dillinger (Depp) and the FBI's pursuit of him. Led by its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), the FBI attempts to bring to justice who they have dubbed "Public Enemy Number One" and to do it their way. But the FBI underestimates Dillinger and his band of gangsters and soon find themselves in over their head when trying to apprehend the master criminal.

The movie takes the approach of portraying the typical antagonist as the main character. This inevitably leads to more of an attachment to the "villain" than to the "hero." Johnny Depp helps this along with his charismatic portrayal. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters fall flat. Instead of a story focused on characters and motivations, the movie feels more like a collection of scenes pieced together. It's not for lack of talent or source material, but rather the direction the movie takes. The movie lacks real character development and instead substitutes a good performance by Depp and a revolving door of other gangsters. With the story and the cast it had, what could be an excellent movie ends up being unsatisfyingly mediocre. (Netflix)

(140 Minutes - Rated R for gangster violence and some language)

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