I went to see Public Enemies last night and in order to branch out and try reviewing things other than anime, I decided to review it. Let's just say it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
What were my expectations? Good question, I figured it would be a powerful gangster drama reminiscent of Goodfellas and the Godfather with good action, an allstar cast of Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, and a wonderful plot that delved into the character of John Dilinger, who in case you did not know is the main character of this movie. Sadly, this movie lacked much of this.
The cast was good but unfortunately Depp really wasn't cast right, Depp always excels when he plays quirky characters, (Case and point: Edward Scissorhands, Jack Sparrow, and Sweeny Todd) but unfortunately Dilinger isn't all that quirky, a badass yes, but quirky no. Depp played him well but the character himself just wasn't all that interesting, and the movie never really went into what caused him to be a bank robber other than he "...liked whiskey, nice clothes, fast cars..." and that his "...father beat the hell out of (him) because he didn't know a better way to raise (him)." Depressing really, because I was sincerely hoping that it would go into his past and show what made him want to become a bank robber, but alas it did not. Christian Bale did a nice job as Agent Purvis of the FBI, another strong silent type which seems to be what Bale is becoming typecast in, but besides that no one's performance was of great interest. And there was certainly no one I would be willing to nominate for an Oscar.
The camera work was, how shall I say ... sloppy, to say the least. With this movie they tried to do the whole guerilla/action camera that's been seeing quite a bit of screen time in movies like the Bourne series, the Crank series, and Taken. Personally, I like it for the most part but there are certain instances when it's not a good fit, take for instance a period piece on bank robbers in the 1930s. Sorry, but I think that if I had been directing this I would've picked a much steadier camera throughout and have this movie be more of a homage to the ganster films from the 50s and earlier, because the action camera just didn't work with the setting. Also, the camera had a tendency to 'pulse' that's the best I can describe it, it would zoom in and out very quickly and it made me feel sort of seasick. Like I said, in another setting I might've enjoyed this camera work but with this movie it just didn't feel right.
The plot was rather good, it was showing Dilinger from his heyday to his inevitable downfall, and it made you cheer for him even though deep down, you knew he wasn't going to come out of it alive. Like I've said earlier though, it would've been nice to have seen his childhood and his first bank job but unfortunately we saw nothing of the sort, and the dialogue only alluded to it once. The biggest problem is the pacing of the film which is rather slow, I know that several people who I saw it with and I thought that it was a 2 1/2 hour movie, which isn't good when the actual film time is clocking in at just over 2 hours. The action and gunfights were quite good for how few there were, realistic and enjoyable to watch all at once, and the blood was realistic and welldone as well, it wasn't like a slasher flick where each person had enough blood pumping from their stab wound for 300 people.
If you can't tell I wanted to love this film, I truly did, but it let me down. It's kind of sad too because this movie will probably end up becoming a DVD that you see in the $5 bargain bins at Wal-Mart because it's not good enough for the average consumer to buy it and it didn't have the certain flair it takes to become a cult classic. A real shame too, because it had the potential to be great.
All in all, it's a decent film, worth a rental at least and maybe you'll like it and I'm just jaded. I really did want to love this film and I truly do hope that it finds an audience of some kind and doesn't collect dust on store shelves, but I have my doubts.
Anyway, it gets 6.5 out of 10 from me.