Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Public Enemies (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: R

Starring:
Johnny Depp as John Dillinger
Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis
Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette
Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover
Jason Clarke as John 'Red' Hamilton
Stephen Graham as Baby Face Nelson
David Wenham as Harry 'Pete' Pierpont
James Russo as Walter Dietrich
Stephen Dorff as Homer Van Meter
Christian Stolte as Charles Makley
Carey Mulligan as Carol Slayman
Emilie de Ravin as Barbara Patzke
Channing Tatum as Pretty Boy Floyd
John Ortiz as Phil D'Andrea
Giovanni Ribisi as Alvin Karpis
Leelee Sobieski as Polly Hamilton
Richard Short as Agent Sam Cowley
Randy Ryan as Agent Julius Rice
Shawn Hatosy as Agent John Madala
Kurt Naebig as Agent William Rorer
John Hoogenakker as Agent Hugh Clegg
Adam Mucci as Agent Harold Reinecke
Rebecca Spence as Doris Rogers
Don Harvey as Customer at Steuben Club
Shanyn Leigh as Helen Gillis (as Shanyn Belle Leigh)
Michael Vieau as Ed Shouse
John Kishline as Guard Dainard
Wesley Walker as Jim Leslie
John Scherp as Earl Adams
Elena Kenney as Viola Norris
Rory Cochrane as Agent Carter Baum
Madison Dirks as Agent Warren Barton
Lili Taylor as Sheriff Lillian Holley
Alan Wilder as Robert Estill

Directed by Michael Mann

Special Features:
Larger Than Life: Adversaries
Michael Mann: Making Public Enemies
Last Of The Legendary Outlaws
On Dillinger's Trail: The Real Locations
Criminal Technology
Feature Commentary With Driector Michael Mann
D-Box Motion Enabled
Blu-ray Exclusives

Includes Digital Copy Of Public Enemies: Special Edition For Portable Media Players

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 140 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"From award-winning director Michael Mann ('Heat,' 'Collateral') comes the film inspired by one of the country's most captivating and infamous outlaws - John Dillinger.

Johnny Depp ('Pirates of the Caribbean' series) stars as the charismatic and elusive bank robber marked by the FBI as America's first 'Public Enemy Number One.' Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard ('La Vie en Rose') plays Billie Frechette, the only woman capable of capturing his heart. Hunted relentlessly by top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale, 'The Dark Knight'), Dillinger engages in an escalating game of outrunning and outgunning the FBI, culminating in an explosive, legendary showdown."

"Public Enemies" is rated R for gangster violence and some language.

Mini-Review:
I'm a big fan of Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. They are two of my favorite actors, so I was really looking forward to checking out "Public Enemies." But as I watched the movie, I found it harder and harder to get into. I simply never felt engaged by it.

First of all, I don't think the role of John Dillinger was all that much of a challenge to Depp. He's at his best when he's doing some sort of eccentric character like Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Ed Wood, or Don Juan DeMarco. This role doesn't require him to do much other than scowl, act tough, and spout charming lines to Billie Frechette.

I also don't think Michael Mann explored the character of John Dillinger as deeply as he could have. He only briefly touches on the more interesting aspects of him. For example, we see the public cheering for Dillinger despite the fact that he's a murderer and a thief. It's a bizarre situation, but we only get a taste of it as people cheer for him as he's driven to the courthouse. It's also interesting that a woman like Billie Frechette would fall for a criminal like Dillinger. We see her initially spurn him, then eventually fall in love with him to the point that she's willing to go to jail for him. Yet we never get a real sense of why she fell in love with him other than scenes where he buys nice things for her. It needed to go a bit deeper. Dillinger's initial reasons for turning to a life of crime are never deeply explored, either. This movie is already over 2 hours long, but I suspect they would have needed a mini-series to sufficiently explore the character.

Christian Bale fares a bit better as Melvin Purvis. He has a fraction of the screentime of Depp, but most of what we see of him is in action scenes or moments where he's doggedly pursuing Dillinger. The fact that he's not explored that deeply as a character is masked by the fact that what he's doing on screen is generally pretty interesting as far as police work goes.

The rest of the cast is quite strong, but they're all shown in such small doses that they don't get to make quite the impact you would hope. Billy Crudup is interesting as J. Edgar Hoover, but he's not seen that often. Dillinger's gang is made up of Giovanni Ribisi as Alvin Karpis, Stephen Dorff as Homer Van Meter, and David Wenham as Harry 'Pete' Pierpont. All of them are great actors, but all of them have very little screen time.

Another thing that bugged me about this film was the cinematography. They must have used a digital camera because a lot of the scenes look like they were shot with a hand held video camera. The camera shakes around a lot in scenes and the motion of the characters frequently looks blurry. Nighttime scenes also have a very grainy look to them. On Blu-ray, the picture quality ends up looking quite poor. This is a nitpick on my part and it may not bother most audiences, but it is very noticeable. I think Mann did it to make the 1930s feel more real, but it didn't work for me.

All that being said, I felt this was a film worth checking out. It made me want to read more about Dillinger. The action scenes were also quite intense. And even Johnny Depp's less exciting performances are better than a lot of actors' best work. People should just be aware of what they're getting when firing up the Blu-ray player. This is not "The Dark Knight," "Pirates of the Caribbean," or even "The Untouchables."

The Blu-ray offers a pretty solid selection of bonus features. You get a good mix of featurettes describing the making of the film as well as a few covering the actual history surrounding Dillinger and Purvis. "Michael Mann: Making Public Enemies" discusses what it took to create an authentic 1930s setting. "Larger Than Life: Adversaries" describes all the research that Bale and Depp did on their respective characters. "Last Of The Legendary Outlaws" paints Dillinger as the last Old West outlaw. "On Dillinger's Trail: The Real Locations" shows how Michael Mann insisted on shooting at real locations where Dillinger was jailed. Finally, "Criminal Technology" covers the development of technology in criminal science. They discuss wire tapping, tommy guns, the development of the FBI, and more. Rounding things out are a digital copy of the film for portable devices, a feature commentary with Director Michael Mann, and a trivia game.

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