Public Enemies

July 12, 2009 - Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are on opposite sides of the law in this gangster pic from director Michael Mann. Marion Cotillard, Giovanni Ribisi and Billy Crudup co-star. Look for a brief cameo from the fabulous Diana Krall.

Depp plays the 1930's bank robber John Dillinger while Bale is Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who always gets his man. The movie begins with Dillinger busting his gang out of the Indiana State Penitentiary. They hit the road and head for Chicago. That's where Dillinger meets Billie (Cotillard), who quickly becomes "his girl."

While Dillinger and the gang carry out a series of well-timed bank robberies, Purvis uses the most modern detecting techniques to track him down. Dillinger seems to understand that he's running out of time, but he hopes for one more big score before he and Billie head somewhere warm to live out their days.

Overall review: *** Depp, as usual, is great. He plays Dillinger as a man on a mission, willing to kill without a second thought. Still, he manages to make Dillinger a sympathetic figure. It's clear that he loves Billie, and you root for him to quit the bank robbing business before it's too late so that they can live happily ever after. Of course, that's not what happened.

What struck me most about the film is that it's more of a character study than an action movie. There are a couple of gun battles and a chase or two but, mostly, it's Depp giving us a good, long, introspective look at the man J. Edgar Hoover called "Public Enemy Number One." As Depp plays him, Dillinger knew his days as a bank robber were numbered, but he just didn’t know what else to do.