In the action-thriller Public Enemies, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in the incredible and true story of legendary Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger (Depp)-the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), and a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public.
No one could stop Dillinger. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone-from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.
But while the adventures of Dillinger's gang-later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham)-thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw's capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America's first Public Enemy Number One.
Hoover sent in Purvis, the dashing "Clark Gable of the FBI". However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis' men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) who were real gunfighters and orchestrating epic betrayals-from the infamous "Lady in Red" to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti-were Purvis and the FBI able to close in on Dillinger.
I think the story and the talent were there but Mann dropped the ball. Depp would be the ideal actor to portray the fun loving guy who won the hearts of the depression era despite being a bad guy. He was too hard and stiff in the film not like the actual footage we have seen of Dillinger. His gang members went by so fast, who could tell who was who. What a waste of some great actors cast in the parts. Also the liberties with the truth ruined it for me. The film start of Dillinger leading a prison break that happened while he was in prison at Crown point sort of cancelled out the realism of using true locations. Mann should have stuck with the real people and real story. It was better.