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Film Review: Public Enemies July 24, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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Johnny Depp is being walked in handcuffs to an enormous and frightening prison, which looks like something out of Nazi Germany. He is forlorn and subdued, as he is pushed inside. He is playing John Dillinger, the well known bank-robbing criminal from the early years of the 20th century, known as the public enemy era, thus the film’s title.

The film follows a high-action, fast paced plot in which various bank robberies, prison breaks and car chases occur, which are fairly true to the life story of John Dillinger.

The plot is thick, fast and furious, and although in some places somewhat confusing to some, overall reasonably easy to follow, but not at all tame, and definitely enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Dillinger’s character has that beautiful balance between bad guy and good guy, with a Robin Hood-esque approach to being the number 1 public enemy – he steals, he kills, but he gives the innocent people what’s theirs; he doesn’t tolerate criminal offenses concerning the blameless.

Overall his character is well developed, with a sensitive side found when he sees “his girl”. This romance, although dangerous and complicated, allows us to see Dillinger as a caring, soft, loving and above all protective man, rather than the violent criminal which the police see. We learn to love and feel sorry for Billie, his girl, as she lives her life on a knife’s edge depending fully on him.

However, this romance is barely within the plot, as it focuses on the action and events which unfold. The rest of the cast are stereotypically, either cops or robbers, but within this you have the good robbers – with the same values as Johnny Dillinger – and the bad robbers, who are just in it for the money through and through.

This film could be critisized by the excess gunshot. As viewers we understand that there was lots of violence and gunfights, but we didn’t need quite so much gunfire and shooting scenes to prove this to us.

Public Enemies also seemed to find it hard to integrate the sensitivity of emotions with the insensitivity of the crimes, especially in the final scene (spoiler alert) where the delicate cinema scene is juxtaposed with the slow motion fight scene in which there is great violence as well as great sadness. However, it did do well to get as integrated as it was, as this is not an easy combination.

The film, overall, was extremely good and definitely worth watching, although not if action, history or crime films are not your sort of thing. This had thrill, suspense, tension, a good plot, was historically accurate, and was realistic, so all in all you should definitely see Public Enemies.

For more information on John Dillinger.




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