Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Public Enemies (Johnny Depp gangster movie)

Genre: Action & Adventure
The film is about John Dillinger a real bank robber in the 1930s. Dillinger is portrayed as charismatic, a real Robin Hood character with a heart of gold.

I didn't like the movie very much.

Remember the washed tone camera work of Saving Private Ryan, the clean lines of Gattaca, etc.. Unusual right? But it worked. The raw expermental camera work for Public Enemies - did not.

Michael Mann, the director of Heat, Last of the Mohicans, etc.., tried to use the Blair Witch style of cinematography for this flick - using a rented Sony handycam by the likes of things.

It looked cheap, shaky, confusing and painful on the eyes.

Storywise- I felt a bit more character and background story would have helped to make some sense into the story. It was the era of Prohibition, Great Depression, and social upheaval. Thousands of WW1 combat veterans were unemployed. The govt wasn't doing much to help the poor, and the banks were ripping off its customers.

Pacing seemed off... but I blame that on the experimental camera work.

Johnny Depp is a good charismatic character but even he couldn't make this film work. Not that he didn't have his moments in the film, he certainly did. But any other good "funny gangster type" actor could have done that too - Decaprio, Val Kilmer, etc..

I thought the stand out performance was Stephen Lang the actor who played Texas Ranger Charles Winstead (the senior agent). He was also the actor who spoke to the girlfriend at the end of the movie, he said, "Bye bye Blackbird". Lang brought so much stealthy cool to the show. Brilliant performance.

Comparing it to other films in the 1920/30s gangster genre - "Road of Perdition", "Untouchables", this one ranks poorly.

If you hate shaky "Blair Witch style" camera work don't watch this film.