Public Enemies (2009)
Michael Mann takes us back to the gritty, anonymous 1930s using the most revealing and edgy in digital technology. His love for hard images and sounds makes Public Enemies a contradictory experience - it bring us closer to the action but farther away from the 1930s. And it's not particularly flattering either. The film also has problems getting us underneath the skin of its protagonist, leaving Depp's slick performance mainly a superficial one, but this was perhaps neither to be expected nor the point. What Mann does here in presenting the legend of the so-called public enemies of the great depression, is letting this legend live on. It's an appealing film which excels at depicting action scenes and bringing life to an conventionally unconventional love story. The latter grows from unconvincing to heartfelt during the course of the film, and Johnny Depp and Marion Cottilard both shine with beauty, even if they are better separately than together. One of the most disappointing aspects of the film, is Mann's failure to link Dillinger's status as a national hero to the hard times of the depression. On the other hand, Billy Crudup's multi-faceted depiction of J. Edgar Hoover is a bonus, and the ending is worthy, from both a historical perspective and an entertainment perspective.