Public Enemies (2009) – Movie Review

Public Enemies is a 2009′s Michael Mann movie based on the true story of FBI agent Melvin Purvis’s attempt to stop criminals John Dillinger and his associates.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard in "Public Enemies"
Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard in "Public Enemies"

In 1933 as John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is brought to a penitentiary by his partner John “Red” Hamilton (Jason Clarke) but they are actually there to help their gang members to break out of prison before heading to Chicago to rob banks.

Meanwhile, Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) and several other FBI agents manage to gun down another criminal, Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) recruited Purvis to lead the hunt for Dillinger.

At a party, Alvin Karpis offers Dillinger a role in a kidnapping plot but he declines politely stating that the public doesn’t like kidnappings. There, Dillinger meets Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), whom he takes to dinner. But when Dillinger begins talking to associates of Frank Nitti, Al Capone’s right hand man, Billie leaves and takes a taxi. Later, Dillinger manages to locate her and beats up a drunker who is verbally abusing her. Impressed, Billie leaves with Dillinger to a motel.

After getting a tip up, Melvin Purvis and his men ambush the motel where he believes Dillinger is staying but they only find an ordinary husband and wife. As Purvis is suspicious of the “husband”, he leaves one of his men to stay behind and watch the door. But, the agent is distracted by someone approaching the door and is killed by the “husband” who turns out to be Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham).

While Purvis has mistaken Baby Face Nelson to be Dillinger, Dillinger and his men manage to conduct another robbery and Purvis admits it’s his mistake and demands from Hoover to bring in professionals to help him to catch Dillinger.

When Dillinger and his girl are enjoying their vacation together, the police manages to locate and arrest Dillinger. In the court, Dillinger’s lawyer is able to convince the judge to keep him in the county jail instead of transferring him to the state prison. With the help of a few inmates, Dillinger manages to escape using a fake gun but is unable to meet Billie due to tight surveillance by the FBI.

Later on, Billie manages to escape and meets Dillinger as they spend a night together. The next morning, Billie is recaptured by the FBI and is severely beaten by an interrogator. Purvis and his men come later on and stop the interrogator from his abusive ways.

With the help of Anna Sage, a prostitute who is also Dillinger’s acquaintance by threatening to deport her back to Romania, Purvis manages to track down Dillinger. But, it is another agent, Charles Winstead who shoots Dillinger. Purvis quits the FBI a year later and committed suicide in 1960 while Billie lived the rest of her life in Wisconsin after her release in 1936.

Public Enemies has slight reassemblance like the movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” where actor Johnny Depp’s character, John Dillinger is the Al Capone version of Brad Pitt’s Jesse James. Asides from Johnny Depp’s incredible performance as Dillinger, Public Enemies is brilliantly filmed in high definition and it has a great cinematography and is beautifully set up.

My ratings: 8 out of 10.

Public Enemies (2009) Trailer

Public Enemies is the remake of the 1941 classic. FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) sets his sights on American gangster John Dillinger (Depp) and others in an attempt to curb a rampant Chicago crime spree during the 1930s. Public Enemies stars Christian Bale, Johnny Depp and will be released on July 1, 2009.