As an Australian citizen it always amazes me how much American history and culture permiates our society. Indeed, it's fair to say that we probably know more about American criminals, gangs and the like then those in our own prisons. No doubt this is in part due to the massive number of American TV shows and movies we see every day.
John Dillinger is one such character - a criminal we had heard about, but didn't really understand the full story. When trailers started to appear for Public Enemies my interest was immediately present, but not due to the star Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), or the director Michael Mann (Collateral) but rather the promise that this movie would tell the story of John Dillinger.
Public Enemies tells the incredible and true story of legendary Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). The charismatic bank robbers lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). In his prime, he soon found himself a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public.
As many of you would know I love movies based on true stories and I was a little disappointed to learn that Public Enemies, while based on real-life bank robber John Dillinger also takes quite a few liberties with the storyline. The death of George Baby Face Nelson actually took place after the events of this movie, Dillinger and Purvis never had a conversation in any prison, and Billie Frenchette was never heavily interrogated by the FBI among other things.
Public Enemies is a superb film which - despite taking some liberties on real events - sees Michael Mann and Johnny Depp both at the top of their game. It's an engrossing movie that fans The Untouchables, American Gangster or Michael Mann's Heat would do well to check out. Public Enemies is an impressive movie.
If I was to pick some very minor complaints it has to be that the dialogue is occasionally a little soft and muffled which forced me to turn up the volume only to be blown away by the aforementioned gunfire.
Public Enemies comes to Blu-Ray with a few extras which aff a bit more background detail to the story in the movie.
Commentary with Michael Mann: Michael Mann goes solo on this audio commentary which does contain some gaps but is also some quite interesting information about the production, and the real-life events upon which the movie is based.
Larger Then Life: Adversaries (10:19/HD): This featurette focuses on John Dillinger and Melvin Purvis with some real newsreel footage from back in the day, and interviews with the director, actors and Purvis' son.
Michael Mann: Making Public Enemies (20:32/HD): This rather interesting featurette looks at Michael Mann's process of making this movie including making everything look authentic to the time period including accuracy to the real events (although why they decide to deviate for some select scenes and details isn't explained). Still this is detailed and well worth a look.
Last of the Legendary Outlaws (8:44/HD): This featurette looks at the myth and legend of one of the last great outlaws and bank robbers in America. This featurette also details members of the Dillinger crew and offers some more details about the man behind the legend including original news footage.
On Dillinger's Trail: The Real Locations (9:48/HD): Michael Mann spent quite a bit of time recreating the authenticity for this movie and this featurette explores the real locations and recreations or restorations used for filming Public Enemies. The actors also discuss how it felt playing the characters in exactly the same locations as the real characters some 75 years earlier.
U Control: I'm not totally sold on the U-Control feature which offers a Timeline and Picture-in-Picture moments. While the content is fantastic it requires a bit too much manual operation for my liking - give me a list of extras with a "Play All" function and I'll be happy. Still with plenty of newsreels (including an interview with John Dillinger Sr) and information this is essential viewing.
Review By: Dave Warner