Hollywood Product: Public Enemies (1)

GENRE: Cops-and-robbers period piece

THE PITCH: In 1933, celebrity outlaw John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) robs banks and eludes the pursuit of the FBI’s Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), who grows disenchanted with the investigative techniques championed by an oily J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup).

MONEY SHOTS: Director Michael Mann doesn’t shortchange audiences hoping for bravura action scenes. Dillinger and his gang blast their way out of prison in the opening set piece. Purvis’ sharp-shooting brings down Pretty Boy Floyd in a gorgeous apple orchard. Dillinger makes an even more thrilling jailbreak at the film’s half-way point. Tommyguns blaze after the feds ambush and chase Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham). At a movie theater, everyone in the audience — except Dillinger — looks right, then left, to see if Public Enemy No. 1 is in its midst.

BEST LINE: When one of Dillinger’s gang asks, “Who cares what the public thinks?” Dillinger replies, “I do — I hide out among ’em.” The film broaches the idea of violent criminals as folk heroes, but doesn’t do much with it.

Continue reading: "Hollywood Product: Public Enemies"

(Image courtesy Peter Mountain/© 2009 Universal Studios)