From award-winning director Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) comes the film inspired by one of the country’s most captivating and infamous outlaws — John Dillinger. Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean series) stars as the charismatic and elusive bank robber marked by the FBI as America’s first “Public Enemy Number One.” Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) plays Billie Frechette, the only woman capable of capturing his heart. Hunted relentlessly by top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight), Dillinger engages in an escalating game of outrunning and outgunning the FBI, culminating in an explosive, legendary showdown. “It’s a landmark crime saga” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).
Since crime auteur Michael Mann, like his protagonists, plays by his own rules, Public Enemies eschews back story and motivation for a closely-observed, action-packed examination of men at work. FBI supremo J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) kick-starts a nationwide manhunt when he proclaims John Dillinger (Johnny Depp, in top form) Public Enemy #1. Hoover taps Agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to bring the Tommy Gun-toting bank robber in by any means necessary (the agency also targets Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson). If Dillinger had split the scene then and there, he might have enjoyed a happier fate, but he falls for beautiful coat-check girl Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard, whose open-hearted performance makes her the most sympathetic character in the film). In the end, though, Dillinger is the captain of his own destiny: his loyalty to his girl and his gang overpowers his desire to live free. Though the director also set his first film, Thief, and third series, Crime Story, in his native Chicago, Public Enemies plays more like Heat in Depression-era garb. In that L.A. policier, Al Pacino's cop develops a grudging respect for Robert De Niro's criminal, but letting a lawbreaker go free isn't an option. In this case, however, the tight-lipped Purvis never develops the same sort of esteem for Dillinger--or Hoover--making him the more tragic figure. If Public Enemies is less overtly commercial than The Untouchables or Bugsy, it's still the best mainstream gangster epic in ages and ranks among Mann's finest works. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Public Enemies (Click for larger image)