Friday, July 3, 2009

Review: Public Enemies

Here is Haunted House Writer's review of "Public Enemies." Since this falls into the review category, there maybe some spoilers involved, so be forewarned. I will start by saying that yes of course Johnny Depp is really really good. But Johnny Depp being good does not an amazing movie make. I've identified four issues that sorta irked me about "Public Enemies."

1) The script and the director apparently did not agree with one another. "Public Enemies" suffers from two very different feels that don't really go well together. The first is that the script is very old school and by this I mean it is extremely historically accurate. You feel like you are in the 1930s. But, a majority of "Public Enemies" is shot with hand-held cameras (like "Cloverfield") which serves to disconnect the viewer from the film due to the modern feel of the hand held viewing experience.

Couple this with extremely fast editing and it becomes hard to identify the characters beyond Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Likewise this style ensures that there is no emotional attachment to anything about "Public Enemies." The only thing that keeps you interested is what happens to Dillinger and his girlfriend, but there are so many gaps between when they are the focus of the shot that you forget about them as well. It is bad when you can find nothing to grasp a hold of as you watch the movie and given that the majority of this is about Dillinger, I personally feel that I have learned nothing about his personality. There was too much a sense of detachments.

This editing style also leads to poor transitioning. At one point your in Chicago, but then in an instant it's weeks later and they are in Indiana and people who were in Texas are now there as just was frustrating. It'd go all of the place with no smooth or easy flow that felt almost uncomfortable.

2) Overall "Public Enemies" was too dark. Not in terms of tone, but in terms of actual lighting. You couldn't see half the time which made it even harder to identify who was on screen or what was happening. This point echoes some of the sentiments in the above section.

3) SPOILER ALERT!! A huge offense was how they shot Dillinger's death scene. One of the highlights of the film is its action sequences which were very realistic, crisp, and engaging. The shootout at the lodge at night is pretty fantastic.

The last 20 minutes of the "Public Enemies" is amazing. When Dillinger is wandering around the police station and watching the's very creepy and mood setting. Then he walks outside and he is being pursued by law enforcement officials who proceed to shoot him through the face. At this point though, "Public Enemies" enters into a slow-motion sequence that concludes with horrible CGI of Dillinger being shot. It's cheesy, corny, looks awful, and completely ruins the amazing sequence that was established previously. It would have been better if you saw Christian Bale light his cigar, then a single shot, then cut to the last scene with the girl in the interrogation room. The rest of the action in the movie was gritty and amazing but then when Dillinger's death is romanticized, it feels so out of place that it ruins the end of the film.

4) This isn't really that big a concern but although Christian Bale does a good job in the film and his accent is spot on, he just doesn't look Southern. His face is too rigid and angular. We all remember how out of place Tom Cruise in "Valkyrie" with his eye patch and no German accent.

Last word of advice for those who are going to see "Public Enemies." Wait a week or so. When I went, the theater was packed with Johnny Depp fan girls who got bored with the film and started texting or talking.

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