Monday, 13 July 2009

Public Enemies

I loved Heat and The Insider and thought Collateral and Manhunter were both superior thrillers, so I expect a lot from Michael Mann, especially when he has Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard to work with. Well, the actors just mentioned did not disappoint (Cotillard is surely one of the best actresses in the world today), but Mann did.

Public Enemies is a would-be gangster epic. With the acting, it could have been a great film. And it had things going for it besides the acting, like the kind of intelligence lacking in other films this summer. But it lacked heart instead and consistently failed to grab me. Being an intelligent honest film, I did not expect it to have a sympathetic John Dillinger (Depp) and felt the character was probably played right. But just because you have a cold bank robber, and a cold FBI man (Bale) chasing him, doesn’t mean the film can’t have some emotion. Instead, it just left me as cold as Depp and Bale.

Still, it felt like a well-made film and I would have been tempted to give it ***+ even if it didn’t grab me, were it not for the cinematography. You know the drill by now. Keep me away from jerky hand-held camera work, especially the kind that’s supposed to feel super-real (like an amateur is filming it live, which is exactly what it feels like to me), like the camera work in parts of Children of Men (which I would have liked so much more without that camera work). Public Enemies intermittently employs precisely the same style throughout the last hour of the film, distracting me during key moments. No doubt some critics will particularly applaud this camera work and style, but I do not like it at all. So Public Enemies gets only *** from me. My mug is up but the stuff inside is pretty bland.


  1. Good to know - I'll not waste my time on this one (hadn't really been planning on it anyway).

  2. My thoughts exactly - I was actually going to warn you against seeing this, but I guess I was too late.