Public Enemies review

Real attention to detail has gone in to the design of Michael Mann’s eagerly anticipated Public Enemies and coupled with involving photography it conjures a brilliant, atmospheric picture of 1930s gangland Chicago.

The top-drawer cast doesn’t disappoint; Johnny Depp plays cool like no one else; seemingly effortlessly, and although, yet again, Christian Bale isn’t given much to get his teeth in to, he is well cast. Marion Cotillard is excellent—a real talent—and cements her position as one of the hottest actresses around.

But with a slice of history approach sidestepping a solid story structure, the tale is hastily told. Most problematic is the establishment of relationships. Bale’s character is, essentially, a supporting character, rather than a man of equal standing to Depp’s Dillinger and so largely fails to establish the two-sides of the same coin psychological battle that the film is clearly going for. As for Depp and Cotillard’s characters, so much of the film, and certainly the finale, hinges on their close bond but it just isn’t convincing enough.

The ingredients are very high quality but the final meal isn’t as fulfilling as it could have been.

3 out of 5

7th Jul 2009