Action, English Movies

Public Enemies directed by Michael Mann

PEPOSTERsm A movie that had so much potential, so much scope for not only exploring an era and the wildly interesting characters that inhabited it but also for making a fast paced action movie. And it had the people to do it – Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, America’s most wanted, Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis, the man who pursued Dillinger. Their pairing could and should have been explosive. Sadly, nothing worked – on occasions, there were only the hint of what could have been…

Dillinger was a fascinating character. The movie failed to bring it out though there were faint echoes at times. He was a charmer, a guy who did his work with style and was one of the last romantic gangsters…the movie failed to bring it out. Even his almost fairy tale romance with Billie fails to bring any energy to the screen. His growing desperation and death also seemed devoid of sentiments that the audience could have felt. His relationship with his comrades never really came off the screen. So much so, I had difficulty in recognizing at times who his men were!!! but inspite of all that, Depp rises above the loose storyline at times by the sheer power of his acting depth. Not enough to salvage the movie, however

Christian Bale is wasted. Now there are two movies in a row that I watched where this hugely talented actor as been under-utilized (the other being terminator). Here, his combat with Dillinger could have been more intense. Here you have two highly intelligent, resourceful men on opposite side of the law – perfect recipe for a mammoth showdown. It ended in a whimper, however. We don’t get to know anything about the agent as a man. Remember, this was the time that FBI got formed and it was mainly due to this conflict between Dillinger and Purvis. We don’t see much evidence of birth out of conflict, neithpublic-enemies-20090216042751825_640wer in the story, nor in the character of Purvis

All, in all, it was a movie that held so much promise and of which it gave slight glimmers at times but it ended with being just a linear cat-mouse chase story without any flesh being put on the characters. We don’t get to know them. This was a movie about characters who were in  grey. The ‘bad’ guys were simply a product of their times. So were the ‘good’ guys. That borderline treatment never really came out. The characters on the screen remained strangers to us.

Watching it made me compare this movie to the ‘The Untouchables’. And that made this movie come out even poorly…

So much promise, so little delivered

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