Public Enemies (M. Mann, 2009)

Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)

The more I hear people complain about this movie, the more I want to like it. For whatever reason, I found myself at the IMDb boards after watching this and couldn’t believe the outrage there over the cinematography. Seriously? The cinematography was the best part about this movie, and it was great. It was more subtle than some of Mann’s other finely shot films. He uses a lot of unique framing devices where we get a close-up shot of a part of a person. Then, something starts to happen in the background and we see a great use of deep focus. There are also several hand-held shots which you never see if these kind of movies, along with several dimly lit scenes that really help enhance the setting (simply because things weren’t as bright at night back then). (By the way, let me take this opportunity to clarify, in other reviews, when I say something is ‘well-lit’, it’s just a short way of me saying the use of lighting is beautifully used and captured in some way. I do not mean it’s bright enough I can see everything.)

Phew, sorry to dwell on that for so long. Unfortunately, outside of the cinematography/editing, this felt a little more average than I had hoped. Most of the actors feel like the actors they are, and not the characters they are supposed to be. Someone else stated it felt like the actors were playing dress-up. The music is also horrible, and used too often as cues. I would have loved to have seen this with no soundtrack at all. And, finally, I wish the film’s focus would have been on Dillinger’s love relationship. But, hey, that’s just a personal preference. It’s still fun the way it is.  7.25/10

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3 Responses to “Public Enemies (M. Mann, 2009)”

  1. I probably would’ve given the movie a solid 8, but I love Depp, loved the lighting/cinematography and lighting, and enjoyed the story line. I didn’t expect the movie to be quite as graphic as it was, but at least I understood the personal vendetta pushing that gore into the frontline.

    • chrisfilm Says:

      Depp was good in this. I thought he was the best of the batch. Usually I really like Christian Bale, but he felt sort of out of place here. I liked the story too, and how Dillinger didn’t really feel like an icon, but more like a real person. Like I said, the more I think about it, the more I like it. =)

  2. Totally agree about Christian Bale – his performance seemed somewhat hollow and mechanical, just not enough to ruin the overall experience for me.

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