Movie Review - 'Public Enemies' - Johnny Depp's Broody Dillinger, Dominating His 'Enemies' Centered on a fatalistic portrait of a great American outlaw, Michael Mann's slick, authentic-looking drama is simultaneously an art film and a crime saga — one dazzling enough to keep the Dillinger legend alive for years.
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Depp's Broody Dillinger, Dominating His 'Enemies'

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Depp's Broody Dillinger, Dominating His 'Enemies'

Review

Movies

Depp's Broody Dillinger, Dominating His 'Enemies'

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Kenneth Turan has this review of "Public Enemies".

KENNETH TURAN: It was the movies that killed John Dillinger - gangster number one until he was gunned down outside a Chicago theater one hot night in 1934. Now the movies have brought him back to life in "Public Enemies," with Johnny Depp in the starring role. Simultaneously an art film and a crime film, this is the story of the famous Depression-era bank robber and his doomed love affair with a beautiful woman, played by Oscar winning Marion Cotillard.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "PUBLIC ENEMIES")

MARION COTILLARD: (As Billie Frechette) What is it exactly you do for living?

JOHNNY DEPP: (As John Dillinger) I'm John Dillinger. I rob banks.

COTILLARD: (As Billie Frechette) Why did you tell me that? You could have made up a story.

DEPP: (As John Dillinger) (Unintelligible)

COTILLARD: (As Billie Frechette) That's a serious thing to say to a girl you just met.

DEPP: (As John Dillinger) I know you.

COTILLARD: (As Billie Frechette) Well, I don't know you.

TURAN: With Johnny Depp there was a formal, almost existential quality about his fatalistic portrayal of the scourge of the Midwest. That gives "Public Enemies" a brooding dark-night-of-the-soul air. Some of that quality comes from the nature of the opposition. That would be the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its man on the ground in the Midwest, Melvin Purvis. As played by Christian Bale, Purvis is an icy and implacable nemesis who keeps after Dillinger like a hound out of hell.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE "PUBLIC ENEMIES")

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Melvin Purvis) The only way that you will leave a jail cell is when we take you out to execute you.

DEPP: (As John Dillinger) Well, we'll see about that.

TURAN: Director Michael Mann and his team have taken exceptional care to make "Public Enemies" authentic, but the film also transcends its period and exists out of time. Though the Depression was a major factor in Dillinger's career, we don't see or feel it all that much. What we get instead is the sense of a man whose name has lasted until now. If the movies have anything to say about it, that name will last longer still.

MONTAGNE: Reviewer Kenneth Turan, and this is NPR News.

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