Customer Reviews: Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)
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VINE VOICEon July 3, 2009
"Public Enemies" proves that Michael Mann is right up there with Martin Scorsese at directing compelling crime dramas. This film, based on a book detailing the nexus of John Dillinger, J. Edgar Hoover, and Melvin Purvis, covers the last year and a half in the life of the famed bank robber, who was branded "Public Enemy Number 1" by Hoover, who was building what would become the FBI. Chasing Dillinger for Hoover was Purvis, who relentlessly pursued Dillinger until the fateful night outside the Biography Theater in Chicago.

Johnny Depp plays Dillinger as a fun-loving but dangerous criminal whose only plan seems to be to live life on the edge until he falls off. As usual, his performance is engaging and utterly believable. Billy Crudup wonderfully plays Hoover as a man obsessed with growing the Bureau, obsessed with public relations, and obsessed with capturing John Dilliger, and Christian Bale plays Purvis as an intelligent, capable, and caught in the difficult position of trying to catch Dillinger while at the same time pleasing a demanding, overbearing publicity seeker.

The film features great supporting performances from Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's girlfriend, Billie Frechette, and Stephen Lang as a veteran Bureau agent assigned to hunt Dillinger.

This is film has plenty of action and thrills, but also possesses great acting, intelligent writing, and masterful directing by Mann. Public Enemies is one the best films to come out in the summer of '09.
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VINE VOICEon July 1, 2009
"Public Enemies", helmed by famed director Michael Mann, is a thriller of the most testosterone fueled variety. It's a fast paced actioner brimming at the seams with intense shootouts and a well-stocked cast of steely-eyed, square-jawed men harboring classic narcissistic complexes. Johnny Depp makes a suave, calculating Dillinger. It's more of a manufactured character than an interpretation of the real life Dillinger, but this is of little consequence because Depp achieves grand theatrics with his sullen glare and devil-may-care attitude. He plays it much as I imagine Steve McQueen would've in his heyday, plowing through his world with a sort of darkly cool, apathetic demeanor that suggests he doesn't care one way or the other about anything.

The supporting characters are superlative as well, particularly Stephen Dorff as Homer Van Meter. There's an intensity to his character that Dorff really brings out. In fact, I didn't even recognize him at first (interestingly, he looked very similar to actor Tim DeKay). Jason Clarke, who portrays John "Red" Hamilton, is an actor primarily known for his television work. I surmise he was chosen for his striking resemblance to the real life criminal; just compare his photograph to the infamous mug of Hamilton. He's probably the most featured gangster, other than Dillinger, being that Hamilton is portrayed as his right hand man. Of course, Christian Bale turns in an able performance as respected G-Man Melvin Purvis - donning yet another one of his famed accents for the role.

The film begins in medias res with an exciting jailbreak, something which I greatly enjoyed. I was happy the film didn't waste time trying to explain Dillinger's childhood and upbringing. There is no hollow attempt to apply reason to his actions or place blame for his anti-social behavior. In the end it doesn't matter what led him to a life of crime, particularly since over the years the man has transformed from a folk hero into a veritable legend. With that in mind, it's obvious Mann's vision was ambitious. He attempted to pack all the nuances and complexities of Dillinger's world into only two hours and, because of this, the end product is a bit too busy. I get the feeling that a bit of streamlining the script might not have been an awful idea. That aside, it's clear that Mann knew what audiences wanted to see is a rip-roarin' take on the robberies, shootouts, and defiance of the law that filled the bulk of Dillinger's life right on up until the bitter end. This film performs those functions in spades!

The major lacking feature of the film is that characterization takes a backseat to the action. This is, perhaps, inevitable considering the large ensemble cast and the fact that nearly every character is based on a very real, very famous person. Often many seemingly interesting characters never quite gel with the audience because their screentime is so brief. One such character is Gilbert Catena, portrayed by Domenick Lombardozzi (probably best known for his role on HBO's The Wire). Still, those aspects aside, every performance here is stellar. Just glance at the supporting cast which includes: David Wenham, Marion Cotillard, Giovanni Ribisi, and Billy Crudup, among others. It's my fervent hope that upon its release to home video there's an extended cut of the film because I would love to see more of these characters (especially Pretty Boy Floyd, since he is only in the film for a scant couple of minutes).

I've noticed many critics mention that the film unnecessarily milks the climax of the film, which is obviously Dillinger's execution outside of the Biograph Theatre. I didn't mind this so much because it's such an iconic event of the Public Enemy era, and more than that, the film portrays Dillinger's death with precise detail and follows what we know of the actual event to the letter. The scene features numerous clips of the film Dillinger watched: Manhattan Melodrama, the gangster vehicle starring Clark Gable.

The film surmises, with good reason, that Dillinger probably identified with Gable's character. It illustrates this by showing one of the haunting final scenes, when William Powell offers to have his death sentence commuted, Gable replies with "You think you're doing me a favor by keeping me locked up in this joint for the rest of my life? I don't want it. If I can't live the way I want, then at least let me die the way I want." Dillinger's face expressed great understanding, perhaps even compassion, with this statement. It's a great cinematic moment, especially since the audience is very well aware of what is about to transpire in his own life.

I give bonus points to the production crew for so aptly depicting mid-west America during the Depression. Many real-life buildings were redressed to look as they did during the time and their efforts greatly enhance the atmosphere. Then there are the detailed setpieces (one of my favorites, though it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it one, is Gilbert's shop), the hairstyles and slick suits, the classic cars - they hit all the notes correctly. There's even some archaic slang film fans will remember from gangster films made in the thirties, such the calling of prison guards "screws".

The robbery scenes, being the lynchpin of any Dillinger yarn, are somewhat brief but accurately portray Dillinger's tactics and methods. Also, concerning actual history, this film does take liberties with what really occurred (like any film does). Perhaps the most egregious liberties are taken concerning the demises of the various gangsters. For instance, Pretty Boy Floyd is depicted as being killed months prior to Dillinger's death (Dillinger even references his demise to Pervis), when in fact he died months afterward. Also, Homer Van Meter survived Dillinger, only to be killed a month later. These aspects are often a necessary evil, because a filmmaker must strike a balance between reality and entertainment - and the two do not always intersect seamlessly. If you want a version that follows the facts exclusively - buy the book.

In summation, "Public Enemies" may not be remembered as a classic action film, but it will be remembered as a classic gangster film. The most gratifying aspect is that, unusual for most action films, all the actors turn in very memorable performances. Some critics and the press have commented on how Bale is absent from nearly all the trailers and promotional materials for this film, but when you watch it, the reason is quite understandable. This is unquestionably Depp's film, and though I concede to not having a particular predilection for him, his role here is not to be missed. This is well worth the price of admission!
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on February 16, 2016
This doesn't work at all for the "digital copy" and Amazon should not be allowed to advertise that is does work. Power PC is no longer supported on a newer Apple computer so adding it to iTunes doesn't work. There is no code given to redeem in Ultraviolet or VUDU either. I opened the package so it probably can't be returned now but we shall see. I am not happy.

They did give me a immediate refund with AMZN credit. I don't even have to mail them item back. Point to them in my book
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on July 7, 2012
Already have a DVD of this movie...bought the Blu ray for the improved video quality.

Very disappointed. The video quality of this Blu ray is worse than my DVD (tested on a 60 inch plasma HDTV).

Skip this one if you are looking for improved video quality.
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VINE VOICEon April 22, 2016
I felt this Michael Mann film was a fairly good and entertaining story of the man once called "Public Enemy Number One" - John Dillinger.

I thought Johnny Depp did a fairly good job of portraying John Dillinger while Christian Bale gave a creditable performance of his FBI nemesis - Melvin Purvis. The clothing, sets, weapons, cars are all period correct for the most part and very well done. The viewer gets a sense of life in the 1930's. John Dillinger was a very smart criminal and I think the Johnny Depp performance correctly showed that Dillinger wasn't the trigger-happy gangster that sprayed bullets around at every opportunity and, therefore, the violence level is lower than many rated-R films.

Does the film remain true to actual events? No, but it is quite close and gives the reader the basic "highlights" of John Dillinger's criminal career during that time when he captured the attention of the nation - and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. michael Mann's direction is quite good, balancing action sequences, romance, introspection and the FBI's implacable pursuit of every clue or lead.

I thought it was an enjoyable movie and one that captured my attention and pulled me along with the story. Four stars.
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VINE VOICEon December 6, 2009
I am an avid supporter of Mann's work so I had no expectations with PE of there being a crystal clear Blu (the cameras he uses) or articulate/perfect sound mixes that allow you to crank it up and still hear dialogue during action scenes. So in fairly rating the BD that detraction list all comes true here, but I still enjoyed the incredible attention to prop detail and filming locations - both of which get covered adequately in the special features.

The picture quality is standard to good as those cameras create the night blur/drag (similar to Miami Vice) but some of the outdoor scenes are clear enough to even see the lens/shutter change (reference the outdoor shot of the jail as Dillinger is driving/escaping - you can actually watch the camera operator change the filter from dull to sharp). The sound is mixed differently throughout depending on the location so some scenes are clear if the camera is pointing right at the speaker, but most do not allow you to have the volume set higher as the gun play is over-amped and/or loud scenes drown the dialogue (airplane, cars, guns, etc.). I still loved watching the performances and I already had read how historically inaccurate the story was but the other details made it a good film to watch - especially since they filmed in so many of the actual locations that the events occurred. Supplements are enjoyable and include:

* 20:32 minute making-of. Mann centers the interviews and flow of the documentary and includes some thorough depictions of how some scenes were made and character preparation.
* 8:44 minute Last Outlaw. Gives a brief history of how these guys were considered to be the last outlaws and covers the actual last moments of Dillinger's life.
* 9:48 minute Locations. Shows all of the work put into filming at the three main historical locations of the story (Bohemian Lodge, the theater and the prison). Shows what can be done if you have enough money to do it right.
* 9:39 minute Criminal Technology. Describes how/why Dillinger had the cars and guns that outperformed the police. Also shows how the FBI started to use more technology to fight these criminals. Some history about Winstead and his role in the shooting (references using outside law help to end Dillinger).
* Commentary with Mann. I always enjoy listening to his theory on attention to detail and what it takes for him to make a film - granted not for everyone.
* DBox - did not use it.
* U-Control. Allows for using the PiP function and incorporating time lines while you watch.
* BD Live. Did the Gangster Movie Challenge, it scrolls through multiple choice options of different movie trivia; had not watched American Gangster recently so I sucked and gave up but you should be able to get all of the PE questions. It does keep track and your score can be compared against other users.

The menu is the standard Universal left-feeding live background action menu (good scenes, good music) but there are more options this time around to help facilitate BD Live stuff (two different icons for that) and learning about how to use everything on the BD (another icon for that). Plus a live feed (similar to a news feed) stays on the upper right quadrant of the menu screen that gives updates on BD live events and other movie stuff.

Overall, a good product for fans of the film and those with a network connection.
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on June 2, 2014
This is a well done movie. Good story great acting the film is crisp and clean. A couple of things I didn't like was the CG on Depps face when he jumps the counter in the beginning. That's just one scene though. the shootout at the Wisconsin hideout wasn't totally accurate but back then nobody really knows what exactly happened. I know Baby face Nelson was shot and killed in Barrington IL. but they don't go over that, and the movie wasn't about him anyway but they could've had him get away. overall this movie was just missing something. It was hard for me to buy Christian Bale as Melvin Pervis they should've gotten a different actor, like matt McConaughey or an American actor. t
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on December 3, 2012
I finally bought this movie on blu ray. The picture quality is excellent and so is the sound.

The film is quite good far better than I had expected it to be. I did not expect such an interesting love story between Depp and Cotillard. Depp did an amazing job in portraying loyalty for his friends, a deadly steadiness in his 'job' and oozing charisma in every frame. Bale is also a favorite who held his own as the conflicted good guy.

After viewing J. Edgar with DiCaprio I had a real appreciation for the frustration shown by an equally talented actor portraying the part Billy Crudup.

A very well made stylish movie worth having in your blu ray collection.
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on February 6, 2014
Well, after Christian Bale's infamous explosion at someone on the Terminator: Salvation set, I'd be inclined to bestow the title on him. But Johnny Depp's kerisma as notorious bank robber and outlaw John Dillinger wins me over in the end. That is not to say that Mr. Bale isn't a match for Mr. Depp, playing an FBI agent who, like his boss, J. Edgar Hoover, seeks to put a modern spin on crime-fighting. Though they rarely share scenes, their conflict during the hunt is always at the forefront and these gentlemen make the most of it. From Depp's taunting diologue to Bale's determined stance, you'll always find yourselves wanting to know what happens next. All the while, these men are surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, though Billy Crudup ought to have gotten more screen time...oh well, I suppose the story couldn't accomidate. Marion Cotillard plays more than a simple interest that Hollywood seems to require no matter what...properly fuses herself with Depp's performance, showing why these lovebirds were "meant to be". A list of actors too long for this review make up a list of gangsters in John Dillinger's and other gangs who ran wild throughout the United States, making things as chaotic as they were supposed to be. Overall, this is a great film about a character in history that anyone would love to learn more about. True, this film isn't entirely historically accurate, but it's can do research later. Enjoy.
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on August 21, 2013
Highly reminiscent of director Michael Mann's ham-fisted effort in translating Stephen Harris' Red Dragon into his box-office bomb Manhunter, this flick deserves considerable mention as Worst Book Adaptation of the Decade. Handled by a less self-indulgent director with a broader vision, this could have easily been the Oscar contender that both Johnny Depp and Christian Bale had hoped for. Instead, we got another well-done Dillinger flick with a screenplay that unfortunately catered only to Depp's anti-hero worship of the major protagonist.

For those who read Bryan Burroughs' landmark epic, Public Enemies was one of the greatest crime narratives ever written. Succinctly subtitled 'America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI 1933-34', it was a panoramic view of an unprecedented time in our nation's history, picking up where antebellum bank robbers such as the James-Younger Gang left off. Though undoubtedly John Dillinger was the rock star with the flamboyant style fastidiously portrayed by Depp, there was also Bonnie and Clyde (whose own biopic didn't do badly a generation ago), the Karpis-Barker Gang, Pretty Boy Floyd (who lasted two minutes in this one), and Baby Face Nelson (who gets the honorable mention by Mann). If this would have gotten a Syriana-type treatment with the flashbacks and switch-tos that Burroughs must have been thinking of when he wrote this saga, we might've had a contender for Best Picture of the Decade, alack and alas.

Not that Johnny Depp didn't do a bang-up job as Public Enemy Number One, a role that the Pirate of the Caribbean had long coveted. He probably deserves kudos for the best Dillinger portrayal, but you can't do a whole lot with a worn and weary script. Mann should've called John Milius for advice: his own 1973 Dillinger starring Warren Oates was an awesome flick but, as he learned, Dillinger just doesn't go over big at the box office. Even Lawrence Tierney could've told him that. Oscar winner Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis and Award-winner Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette added star appeal but you just can't make a good meat loaf out of spam.

The flick appropriately starts off like gangbusters as Dillinger's gang busts him out of jail, while Purvis murders Pretty Boy Floyd as Hoover announces his career-making War on Crime. Shortly afterwards, the flick deflates as a series of introspections shows Dillinger to be a ne'er-do-well country boy with a head full of corn flakes. Bale tries to make the save as a tortured Special Agent trying to deal with Hoover's flagrant violations of the gangsters' Constitutional rights. Yet Mann drives this Titanic directly into the iceberg as the agents proceed to beat the snot out of the captured Billie in trying to discover Johnny's whereabouts. Women-beaters aren't big box-office, even if it's as great a flick as Raging Bull. We next proceed to the shootout at Little Bohemia, and when Mann fails to get his facts straight in killing off Baby Face Nelson, well, as we have seen, even Batman couldn't save this one.

The glaring omissions and greatest disappointment was not seeing the other death stars spotlighted by Burroughs' book. No one has revisited the Bonnie and Clyde saga since Warren Beatty, and a couple of quick switchovers might have worked wonders. Shooting Pretty Boy Floyd at the beginning of the movie was tantamount to Mann shooting himself in the foot, and obfuscating the Karpis-Barker Gang as bit players was probably the worst mistake of all. The cerebral Karpis was the last Public Enemy Number One, and he masterminded kidnappings and armed robberies that grossed twice the other yeggs' combined totals. The Devil's greatest achievement, it is said, is making people believe he doesn't exist. Most people don't know who Alvin Karpis is, and Mann might've set the record straight if he'd only got the story right.

For Depp, Bale and Cotillard fans, this is a solid effort for which these actors deserve recognition for putting over a registered stink bomb. For Michael Mann watchers, this ranks right up there with Manhunter as a classic book-to-movie fumble. For crime buffs and action/adventure flick fans, well, let's say this is better than Boys In The Hood...but not much.

Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)
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