User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 357 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 357
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  1. May 21, 2013
    10
    Honesty is a rare and often sought after trait in any individual, and when we see Johnny Depp portray one of the most notorious criminals in American history, we see exactly what Depression era bank robber John Dillinger was all about, upfront and straight to the point...honest.
    Whether he was a bad person or a man simply following what he was good at is anyones guess, but Michael Mann
    Honesty is a rare and often sought after trait in any individual, and when we see Johnny Depp portray one of the most notorious criminals in American history, we see exactly what Depression era bank robber John Dillinger was all about, upfront and straight to the point...honest.
    Whether he was a bad person or a man simply following what he was good at is anyones guess, but Michael Mann brilliantly focuses on exactly what Dillinger was known for, holding up banks. We don't need a backstory or a setup for how he took on such a job, we just see what we expect to see, but with Dillinger we see someone who isn't someone we would expect.
    After a daring escape from a penitentiary, Dillinger and his friends, including Red (Jason Clarke) and Harry Pierpont (David Wenham), Dillinger is already setting up his next heist, during a great crime wave in the midst of the Depression.
    Dillinger uses his charm to woo Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) who he is entirely honest with in his robbery prowess. She accepts his life and his determination to be with her, while Dillinger and his friends continue to evade the Bureau of Investigation, leading the hunt is Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) who took down Pretty Boy Floyd and is now on the hunt for Dillinger.
    After several near misses and even a capture, Dillinger brims with confidence at how everyone seems to be at his feet, which Depp perfectly encapsulates. He brings the slick, handsome and straight cut personality to the role that we know from the history of John Dillinger, but with so much more, a scene where he walks freely through the department searching for him is tense, wonderful and also a perfect rendition of how Dillinger liked to live his life. But to quote the film, bank robberies are not getting any easier to pull, and when the Bureau lands down hard, tragedy and blood follow Dillinger wherever he goes. But his only wish is to be with Billie.
    Shot in digital high def, Public Enemies looks truly dazzling, the cinematography added with the intense close-ups create a documentary type feel that is reminiscent of the story that is on show. The big cast includes Channing Tatum, a very underrated yet brilliant turn of J. Edgar Hoover by Billy Crudup, Stephen Dorff, Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang.
    We can only go by what we are told by the history books, but Dillinger was indeed a colourful character nonetheless and Michael Mann has told an excellent story and created a moving and focused film.
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  2. May 13, 2013
    10
    I rob banks," John Dillinger would sometimes say by way of introduction. It was the simple truth. That was what he did. For the 13 months between the day he escaped from prison and the night he lay dying in an alley, he robbed banks. It was his lifetime. Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" accepts that stark fact and refuses any temptation to soften it. Dillinger was not a nice man.
    Here is a
    I rob banks," John Dillinger would sometimes say by way of introduction. It was the simple truth. That was what he did. For the 13 months between the day he escaped from prison and the night he lay dying in an alley, he robbed banks. It was his lifetime. Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" accepts that stark fact and refuses any temptation to soften it. Dillinger was not a nice man.
    Here is a film that shrugs off the way we depend on myth to sentimentalize our outlaws. There is no interest here about John Dillinger's childhood, his psychology, his sexuality, his famous charm, his Robin Hood legend. He liked sex, but not as much as robbing banks. "He robbed the bankers but let the customers keep their own money." But whose money was in the banks? He kids around with reporters and lawmen, but that was business. He doesn't kid around with the members of his gang. He might have made a very good military leader.
    Johnny Depp and Michael Mann show us that we didn't know all about Dillinger. We only thought we did. Here is an efficient, disciplined, bold, violent man, driven by compulsions the film wisely declines to explain. His gang members loved the money they were making. Dillinger loved planning the next job. He had no exit strategy or retirement plans.
    Dillinger saw a woman he liked, Billie Frechette, played by Marion Cotillard, and courted her, after his fashion. That is, he took her out at night and bought her a fur coat, as he had seen done in the movies; he had no real adult experience before prison. They had sex, but the movie is not much interested. It is all about his vow to show up for her, to protect her. Against what? Against the danger of being his girl. He allows himself a tiny smile when he gives her the coat, and it is the only vulnerability he shows in the movie.
    This is very disciplined film. You might not think it was possible to make a film about the most famous outlaw of the 1930s without clichés and "star chemistry" and a film class screenplay structure, but Mann does it. He is particular about the way he presents Dillinger and Billie. He sees him and her. Not them. They are never a couple. They are their needs. She needs to be protected, because she is so vulnerable. He needs someone to protect, in order to affirm his invincibility.
    Dillinger hates the system, by which he means prisons, that hold people; banks, that hold money, and cops, who stand in his way. He probably hates the government too, but he doesn't think that big. It is him against them, and the bastards will not, can not, win. There's an extraordinary sequence, apparently based on fact, where Dillinger walks into the "Dillinger Bureau" of the Chicago Police Department and strolls around. Invincible. This is not ego. It is a spell he casts on himself.
    The movie is well-researched, based on the book by Bryan Burrough. It even bothers to try to discover Dillinger's speaking style. Depp looks a lot like him. Mann shot on location in the Crown Point jail, scene of the famous jailbreak with the fake gun. He shot in the Little Bohemia Lodge in the same room Dillinger used, and Depp is costumed in clothes to match those the bank robber left behind. Mann redressed Lincoln Avenue on either side of the Biograph Theater, and laid streetcar tracks; I live a few blocks away, and walked over to marvel at the detail. I saw more than you will; unlike some directors, he doesn't indulge in beauty shots to show off the art direction. It's just there.
    This Johnny Depp performance is something else. For once an actor playing a gangster does not seem to base his performance on movies he has seen. He starts cold. He plays Dillinger as a Fact. My friend Jay Robert Nash says 1930s gangsters copied their styles from the way Hollywood depicted them; screenwriters like Ben Hecht taught them how they spoke. Dillinger was a big movie fan; on the last night of his life, he went to see Clark Gable playing a man a lot like him, but he didn't learn much. No wisecracks, no lingo. Just military precision and an edge of steel.
    Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis in a similar key. He lives to fight criminals. He is a cold realist. He admires his boss, J. Edgar Hoover, but Hoover is a romantic, dreaming of an FBI of clean-cut young accountants in suits and ties who would be a credit to their mothers. After the catastrophe at Little Bohemia (the FBI let Dillinger escape but killed three civilians), Purvis said to hell with it and made J. Edgar import some lawmen from Arizona who had actually been in gunfights.
    Mann is fearless with his research. If I mention the Lady in Red, Anna Sage (Branka Katic), who betrayed Dillinger outside the Biograph when the movie was over, how do you picture her? I do too. We are wrong. In real life she was wearing a white blouse and an orange skirt, and she does in the movie. John Ford once said, When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. This may be a case where he was right.
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  3. Sep 26, 2014
    10
    It's like if Leonardo Dicaprio spawned a lovely mix of Big Rigs Over the Road Racing and stuffed it into a pink guys anus. It made me so happy I went to see it, it made me play PayDay 2
  4. IvankaG.
    Jul 1, 2009
    9
    Interesting that the lowest review score here is 50. Even the highest rated movies here have some scathing reviews. I think this movie was a bold move on Mann's part - it's being packaged and presented as a summer fun movie, but it's something much deeper. Mann didn't compromise at all on this, he brought his unique vision to the screen - those who understand it, think Interesting that the lowest review score here is 50. Even the highest rated movies here have some scathing reviews. I think this movie was a bold move on Mann's part - it's being packaged and presented as a summer fun movie, but it's something much deeper. Mann didn't compromise at all on this, he brought his unique vision to the screen - those who understand it, think it's brilliant; the rest of them can't say any worse than 2 of 4 stars. If you have any expectations whatsoever of a lush, Hollywood period piece like Road to Perdition, leave those at the door. This is like a 40's gangster movie remade by Paul Greengrass. We're simply spectators watching events unfold in the last months of Dillinger's life. This is not about backstory or the typical screenwriting devices. Just watch this beautiful, documentary-like vision unfold. The final segment (even the naysayers agree) is profoundly well done and worth the ticket price alone. The shootout at Little Bohemia comes close. Depp, Cotillard and Bale are excellent. Bale's character was a boring guy in real life - read the book - so Bale's restraint is appropriate here. Expand
  5. ChrisP.
    Jul 16, 2009
    10
    It's a great movie!Johny Depp was really good and the plot really interesting.Good scenes with lot of actions.i believe it would be one of the best movie of 2009!
  6. WinstonL
    Sep 29, 2009
    10
    Johnny Depp is on my Oscar-watch.
  7. CapoRegime
    Oct 28, 2009
    10
    Expect some Oscar awards coming from this film.
  8. RodrigoL.
    Jul 2, 2009
    10
    A unique masterpiece. Depp impersonates dillinger in a unique way and gives an academy award worthy performance.
  9. JerryB.
    Jul 3, 2009
    10
    The best summer film so far. One of those films were you can't help but root for the bad guy.
  10. ChrisS.
    Jul 5, 2009
    9
    Another classic to add to your collection of gangster flicks. I'm not sure about the actual story of Dillinger--some parts i know were inaccurate--but the film is front-to-back remarkable.
  11. NeilS.
    Jul 1, 2009
    9
    it was a good movie on the boarder line with great but not quite
  12. Mr.C
    Jul 1, 2009
    10
    This is a perfect gangster-movie !! Mann is a great director and Depp will win a Oscar for his performance !! Exelent !!!
  13. SamL.
    Jul 1, 2009
    9
    Intriguing, well acted, and great visuals
  14. [Anonymous]
    Jul 1, 2009
    10
    Can't think of a single Mann, Depp, or Bale film that rises above this. The viewer's intelligence is respected; his expectations as a film goer are indulged . . . everything I could have hoped for and more. Depp nailed Dillinger - what a performance - what a cast - what a truly entertaining film!
  15. MD.
    Jul 2, 2009
    10
    Visually stunning, with a fantastic performance by Depp.
  16. DianaG.
    Jul 2, 2009
    9
    Johnny Depp gives a stellar performance, despite a less than stellar script. The movie is great - it's not just as perfect as it could have been. Still a must see movie this summer.
  17. RyanG
    Jul 21, 2009
    10
    Outstanding acting and set.
  18. MaxB.
    Jul 2, 2009
    9
    I really hope everyone who is interested in this movie goes to see it this weekend. It's a very well-done crime saga that will reward a patient, thoughtful viewer. Please show Hollywood that not every movie-goer is a young child (Ice Age 3) or has the mentality of a 14-year-old boy (Transformers 2).
  19. RickR.
    Jul 4, 2009
    9
    Mann had the daring to invent a visual vocabulary for the gangster film, and it pays off with the best film of the genre since Bonnie & Clyde. The camera takes in actors and action alike with unhurried deliberation, more or less in real time, and it brings the human scale of both into sharp relief. As slickly stylish as the film is visually, it doesn't get in the way of a great Mann had the daring to invent a visual vocabulary for the gangster film, and it pays off with the best film of the genre since Bonnie & Clyde. The camera takes in actors and action alike with unhurried deliberation, more or less in real time, and it brings the human scale of both into sharp relief. As slickly stylish as the film is visually, it doesn't get in the way of a great gangster film that is also a great love story. Collapse
  20. SteE
    Aug 1, 2009
    9
    An absolutely brilliant film. The style, the direction, the camera, the acting talent. It was all there. Johnny Depp was once again brilliant in his portrayal of Johnny Dillinger, whilst Christian Bale, usually disappointing, provided a sturdy opponent. Michael Mann directs the film with a brilliance which one rarely sees, and in my opinion anyone who gave this film below a seven simply An absolutely brilliant film. The style, the direction, the camera, the acting talent. It was all there. Johnny Depp was once again brilliant in his portrayal of Johnny Dillinger, whilst Christian Bale, usually disappointing, provided a sturdy opponent. Michael Mann directs the film with a brilliance which one rarely sees, and in my opinion anyone who gave this film below a seven simply cannot have understood the proceedings or failed to appreciate the artistic beauty of the film. It could be said that this is one of the greatest films in the genre. Expand
  21. MaryM.
    Jul 1, 2009
    9
    I didn't know what to expect despite waiting a year for this film. Very surprised and pleaed with the results. Simply put, Depp IS Dillinger.
  22. KrisB.
    Jul 10, 2009
    10
    Epic Movie, great to watch, you won't be disappointed.
  23. Annie
    Jul 1, 2009
    10
    Excellent film. Johnny Depp is pitch perfect as Dillinger with a wicked gleam in his eye. Christian Bale is toned down and tightened up, as the G-Man with a conscious. The romance between Dillinger and Billie is both sweet and passionate. You may not agree with her decisions, but you certainly understand why she fell so head over heels for the gangster, and why he loved her from the Excellent film. Johnny Depp is pitch perfect as Dillinger with a wicked gleam in his eye. Christian Bale is toned down and tightened up, as the G-Man with a conscious. The romance between Dillinger and Billie is both sweet and passionate. You may not agree with her decisions, but you certainly understand why she fell so head over heels for the gangster, and why he loved her from the moment he spotted her. Expand
  24. OscarF.
    Jul 1, 2009
    10
    Reduce this movie to the simpliest of terms, best movie of the year so far!
  25. SteveP
    Jul 17, 2009
    9
    An excellent Mann film! Reminds me alot of Heat.
  26. BarbK.
    Jul 2, 2009
    9
    Depp is mesmerizing; the performances first rate all around. thought-provoking and incredibly realistic while touching and heartbreaking. I must see.
  27. BobN
    Jul 29, 2009
    9
    I thought this movie would suck. Miami Vice? Lame. Collateral? Ditto. The trailer to Public is not too motivating, and the reviews are rather blah. Nonetheless, I decided to see this anyways. Good film. I do not care about gangsters. Never liked the Godfather. I loved this film. The HD cameras made this fascinating. No, it does not look likea home movie nor a History Channel flashback. It I thought this movie would suck. Miami Vice? Lame. Collateral? Ditto. The trailer to Public is not too motivating, and the reviews are rather blah. Nonetheless, I decided to see this anyways. Good film. I do not care about gangsters. Never liked the Godfather. I loved this film. The HD cameras made this fascinating. No, it does not look likea home movie nor a History Channel flashback. It looks great. The story is simple, yet it is also complex. Is it historically accurate? Who cares. Remember the Titans (junk-fest) was far from accurate, but that didn't stop critics from liking it. This is simply a good film. What matters to me in a film is the hidden theme, or atmosphere, and if that film can hold it throughout. This film has great atmoshpere. I never once thought of gangster cliches or hollywood splurge. It was engrossing and full of frenzy. It had a momentum which is rare these days. This is one of the only films where the digital camera actually adds to it. Mann, great job. Expand
  28. ROBERTM.
    Jul 5, 2009
    9
    Johnny Depp gives depth to Dillinger. His love interest was completely believable. We should see more of her.
  29. MS
    Jul 7, 2009
    10
    Great movie - different, interesting, exciting.
  30. CaitlinR
    Aug 2, 2009
    9
    At last - after the stifling summer blockbusters and sequels comes something almost like an indie (compared to others released around that time). Great job, very tense, very exciting, and I have more respect for Depp actor-wise.
  31. JoshW.
    Jul 13, 2009
    10
    An absolute classic. Great film. Historically accurate, amazingly told. Only problem is it's a bit slow. If it was half an hour shorter it would be the best film this year.
  32. MikenN.
    Jul 29, 2009
    9
    Really dug this film. Only film I ever saw where the digital filming actually made the film better, or at least more interesting. One big gripe: Goldenthal, fantastic composer...sadly, every time his music came in it did not fit, likely due to the HD camera. The composed music seemed forced, and distracting. Yet, great film.
  33. SandyM
    Aug 24, 2009
    10
    Loved it! Johnny Depp was perfectly cast as Dillinger and very believable. Marion, who played Billie Frechette, his girlfriend had an ethereal look about her that you just couldn't take your eyes off her. They were absolute magic on screen. Though it was bloody and violent, it was not overly so since this is a gangster movie about bank robbers and a man who was and lived a very Loved it! Johnny Depp was perfectly cast as Dillinger and very believable. Marion, who played Billie Frechette, his girlfriend had an ethereal look about her that you just couldn't take your eyes off her. They were absolute magic on screen. Though it was bloody and violent, it was not overly so since this is a gangster movie about bank robbers and a man who was and lived a very violent life. Loved the charm and brashness that Depp portrayed in the role. And loved the original Chicago scenery. Expand
  34. JoeM
    Dec 16, 2009
    9
    Public Enemies is a fantastic film that requires multiple viewings to really appreciate the internal battle that these characters are facing. This is Michael Mann at the top of his form, with his spectacular use of HD to give the film a cutting edge yet old school feel, Depp is amazing and the supporting cast is also great, the one minor flaw that this film has is that you never really Public Enemies is a fantastic film that requires multiple viewings to really appreciate the internal battle that these characters are facing. This is Michael Mann at the top of his form, with his spectacular use of HD to give the film a cutting edge yet old school feel, Depp is amazing and the supporting cast is also great, the one minor flaw that this film has is that you never really end up caring for christian bales character who is not in it a ton but enough to be noticeable. In the end this is a must see film that has one of the best endings in recent memory. Expand
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. The film lacks the juice promised by the teaming of such extraordinary filmmakers with a cast as large as a Hooverville encampment.
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Oddly, too, the film is somewhat shortchanged by its great star, Johnny Depp, who disappointingly has chosen to play Dillinger as self-consciously cool rather than earthy and gregarious.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    50
    It lacks overall focus, and at the end you may have a question for Michael Mann: Why'dyou bother? [July 6, 2009, p.59]