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Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi ... see more see more... , Billy Crudup , Stephen Dorff , David Wenham , Stephen Graham , Jason Clarke , Stephen Lang , Rory Cochrane , John Ortiz , John Michael Bolger , Bill Camp , Matt Craven , Emilie De Ravin , Don Frye , Spencer Garrett , Shawn Hatosy , Peter Gerety , John Hoogenakker , Branka Katic , Domenick Lombardozzi , David Warshofsky , Carey Mulligan , James Russo , Christian Stolte , John Judd , Michael Vieau , John Kishline , Wesley Walker , Elena Kenney , John Scherp , Madison Dirks , Len Bajenski , Adam Clark , Andrew Krukowski , Casey Siemaszko , Peter DeFaria , Brian Connelly , Jeff Shannon , Ed Bruce , Geoffrey Cantor , Chandler Williams , Diana Krall , Richard Short , Randy Ryan , Kurt Naebig , Adam Mucci , Rebecca Spence , Danni Simon , Shanyn Leigh , Kris Wolff , Lili Taylor , Alan Wilder , Michael Bentt , John Lister , Jim Carrane , Rick Uecker , Mark Vallarta , Gareth Saxe , Guy Van Swearingen , Jeff Still , Lance Baker , Leelee Sobieski , Keith Kupferer , Martie Sanders , Robyn Suzanne Scott , Gerald Goff , Steve Key , Patrick Zielinski , Stephen Spencer , Sean Rosales , Dan Maldanado , Joseph Mazurk , Daniel Mays , Anna Friel , Lorraine Ashbourne , Barnaby Kay , Aisling Loftus , Barbara Marten , Georgina Rich , Peter Wight

Based on author Bryan Burrough's ambitious tome Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43, director Michael Mann's sprawling historical crime drama follows the ef... read more read more...forts of top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale ) in capturing notorious bank robber John Dillinger. A folk hero to the American public thanks to his penchant for robbing the banks that many people believed responsible for the Great Depression, charming bandit Dillinger (Johnny Depp) was virtually unstoppable at the height of his criminal career; no jail could hold him, and his exploits endeared him to the common people while making headlines across the country. J. Edgar Hoover's (Billy Crudup) FBI was just coming into formation, and what better way for the ambitious lawman to transform his fledgling Bureau of Investigation into a national police force than to capture the gang that always gets away? Determined to bust Dillinger and his crew, which also included sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), Hoover christened Dillinger the country's very first Public Enemy Number One, and unleashed Purvis to take them down by whatever means necessary. But Purvis underestimated Dillinger's ingenuity as a master criminal, and after embarking on a frantic series of chases and shoot-outs, the dashing agent humbly surmised that he was in over his head. Outwitted and outgunned, Purvis knew that his only hope for busting Dillinger's gang was to baptize a crew of Western ex-lawmen as official agents, and orchestrate a series of betrayals so cunning that even America's criminal mastermind wouldn't know what hit him. Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, and Stephen Dorff co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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59% liked it

632,115 ratings


68% liked it

263 critics

DVD Release Date: December 8, 2009

Stats: 34,465 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (34,465)

  • December 21, 2009
    Great cast, great action. Excellent gangster movie took me back to the Untouchables. One of my all time favorites ..
  • July 30, 2013
    Public Enemies is the story of infamous depression era bank robber John Dillinger who became a kind of mythic Robin Hood style figure in the eyes of the poverty stricken American public of the time. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale starring in a legendary true-life gangster story d... read moreirected by the man who brought us Heat? Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?? Errrrm...evidently, yes it could. Once again, as always seems to be the case with over-hyped Hollywood blockbusters, the script is the usual suspect when assigning blame for missed opportunities. We all know what Depp and Bale are capable of, but here they have so little to work with its difficult for me to find fault with them. The film is basically just a series of beautifully shot shoot outs and jail breaks loosely strung together by a skeletal plot involving next to no character depth or development. We know nothing about their motives or how they reached this point in their lives and seem to have no meaningful relationships with any of the supporting characters. The visual side of things cannot really be faulted however and the set pieces are expertly handled by Mann, but the shadow of the infinitely superior Heat looms over the entire proceedings. 10/10 for style, but 5/10 for substance.
  • fb729949618
    December 1, 2012
    Nice to finally see Johnny Depp not in a weird/cooky role. The film had a lot of action and a great story even though it was pretty lengthy. The fact that it's based on real people and events makes it all the better.
  • fb1664868775
    November 24, 2012
    Solid direction by Mann and a great performance from Depp, towards the end it really gets good.
  • October 19, 2012
    Michael Mann's production is pure Hollywood, a monument to the myth of Dillinger, using facts as long as they stay out of the way of the fun. Why rob banks at all? And why not quit once you're ahead? Piddling concerns here ... cut to the gunfight, cut to the chase. Not a badl... read morey done work, only lacking the humanity to flesh out the man behind the monument.
  • March 9, 2012
    I watched this movie at a midnight showing. I was extremely excited for this movie. It all seemed great: Michael Mann, the director of Heat is directing this movie... Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in a gangster movie! OMG COUNT ME IN! However, we were left with a very faithful a... read moredaptation to John Dillinger, one of the greatest criminals during the 1930's that was messily mashed together. The locales this film takes place on are sometimes the EXACT locations where they have occurred and others where reconstructed to look exactly like it, but the editing, the direction, and the cinematography were AWFUL. I do not say this about a lot of movies but the editing sometimes got horrendous (Note that I went to watch this movie twice). In one particular scene, there were tommy guns being shot off in front of the camera, but suddenly, Johnny Depp screeches about 4x louder than the gunshots, "GET IN THE CAR!" If it was intentional, this must be an amateur. The film also uses a digital HD camera that create incredibly rich and gorgeous shots.... only when the camera is still. Michael Mann goes for a "shaky cam" feel and it absolutely does not work with this camera. I honestly love the shaky cam (Cloverfield, Bourne series, etc.) but it did not add unto the movie's effect. With the technical sides out of the way, I would have to say that "Public Enemies" suffers a lot in terms of its storytelling. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale played their roles, but the audience was NOT emotionally invested... and this is a problem I frequently see from Michael Mann's movies. The characters on screen never seem to be human and so tension never truly builds up. This is not the actors' faults (He did get some of the greatest actors on screen like Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise) but it is the screenplay that suffers. Some of the dialogue were god-awful. I would say the only redeeming factors of this movie are: Some scenes with Christian Bale, the shootout scenes (exquisitely done), and some still camera shots were gorgeous. That's about it. You want good Michael Mann movies? Collateral, Heat, and The Insider are those movies... Unfortunately, this is not it.
  • December 25, 2011
    What was the best part about Public Enemies? The Score. What was the worst part about it? The pathetic use of the stellar cast. Yes, Public Enemies is my 3rd film to be rated a 70% in a row, and im not glad because of that. I first saw Public Enemies a few years ago when it came ... read moreout, and to be honest with you, I liked it alot. my brain honestly couldn't comprehend the complete story, but I really liked the action sequences. Back then it could've been an 80 or 90 percent for me, but now, I just cant enjoy it as much. The action scenes were nice, and they had some suspense at some parts for me. The love relationship I actually enjoyed this time, unlike the last movie I saw which was The Town, and I hated that relationship. The chemistry between Depp and Cotillard was alright, I think it was the acting that made it that way. But the dialogue and the actions they did to love each other were enjoyable for me. Next, is the score. The score, for me, was one of the best of 2009. It was country, classic, and epic all at the same time. Now, the use of the score was a little sad. At bank heists, the country/guitar score got a bit annoying, and at other times it was used to add more drama to the scene, when the scene wasn't very dramatic in the first place. I have to say, though, with all the opera and choir use and violin use, I didn't care where it was used after a bit, I just wanted to hear it. After that, it brings me to the complete story line. The John Dillinger cases were very interesting to me when I first saw this film. The fact that he was a supposed "modern robin hood" got me very mesmerized in the film. And when they had all these real historical figures like J. Edgar Hoover, Melvin Purvis, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd in the film, I was hooked. The historical accuracy was perfect, for all these scenes I were seeing made me think they came straight out of a history article. The story was a bit slow and confusing at times, and even after the second viewing I still couldn't understand what was going on in some of the scenes. But overall, I actually enjoyed the plot. The next thing I want to talk about it is the acting. Here we have Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Johnny Depp and Channing Tatum, all in one film, but they simply weren't used well. Christian Bale never made any smart dialogue, I don't even remember seeing Channing Tatum, Johnny Depp was dull and boring the whole time, and Marion Cotillard wasn't a very convincing American woman (I think it was the accent). If there was a favorite character of mine, it had to be the actor who played Baby Face Nelson, and sadly, no one real famous played him. As it is though, the film was worse for me the second viewing, doesn't mean I couldn't enjoy the score, action sequences, and the love relationship. In the end, Public Enemies was a film with poor use of cast, but excellent use of historical story.

    Public Enemies- 70%, B
  • December 12, 2011
    In a way, director Michael Mann took the premise of his masterwork "Heat" and transferred it to the 30s and the real events about America's public enemy number one John Dillinger. Sadly, the chemistry between Depp and his hunter Bale is never as explosive as between DeNiro and Pa... read morecino, mostly because they have very few scenes together. That doesn't mean there isn't excitement in this hunt. The shootouts are excellently filmed and there are moments of brilliance, for example in the traffic light scene. The decision to film this on video does give the film a hyper realistic look, which works for some scenes but feels strange in others. Overall, an entertaining, sometimes enthralling crime drama with excellent acting. Depp manages to make you care for this gentleman bank robber, who's more likable than some of the law enforcers. But the rest of the cast delivers the goods, as well. Especially the last shot of Marion Cotillard's face is unforgettable.
  • November 1, 2011
    There isn't anything wrong with Public Enemies. But then again there isn't anything really special or memorable about it either.
  • June 29, 2011
    Public Enemies is an amazing gangster movie. I love the way it was shot and all the shootout scenes were outstanding. The movie is at times slow, mostly when it is examining the relationship between Dillinger and Billie. At other times it is extremely fast paced and exciting. Mic... read morehael Mann is one hell of a director and he proves it again here. The same can be said for Johnny Depp as an actor and he was great as Dillinger. The rest of the cast was good too. Christian Bale as always and Marion Cotillard in the first role I ever saw here in. Christopher Nolan definitely took notice of her. Can't wait to see her in The Dark Knight Rises.

Critic Reviews

Ben Mankiewicz
July 6, 2009
Ben Mankiewicz, At the Movies

I do think this is a film worth seeing, so obviously, I say see it. Full Review

Ben Lyons
July 6, 2009
Ben Lyons, At the Movies

Some strong performances, but I expected more from this great director and stellar cast. Full Review

Christopher Orr
July 3, 2009
Christopher Orr, The New Republic

If John Dillinger had not existed... Michael Mann would have had to invent him. Full Review

Trevor Johnston
July 3, 2009
Trevor Johnston, Time Out

It's a fascinating moment in history, and Mann captures the cars, the guns and the buildings with painstaking, immersive authenticity. Full Review

Scott Von Doviak
July 3, 2009
Scott Von Doviak, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/

Even the bank jobs and prison breaks feel perfunctory and enervated. Full Review

Peter Rainer
July 3, 2009
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

It tills the old ground, albeit with new-style star power and Mann's signature cinematic flourishes. But Depp is unduly subdued and Mann's cape work is oversold. Full Review

Joe Morgenstern
July 2, 2009
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

Our connections with Public Enemies remain abstract. The darkness and the distance kill the fun. Full Review

Kathleen Murphy
July 2, 2009
Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies

... as strange and exhilarating as riding the running board of John Dillinger's fast, shiny, black getaway car. Full Review

David Edelstein
July 2, 2009
David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture

The best rejoinder to Public Enemies is Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal video... It's a tommy-gun gangster fantasia with a touch of Guys and Dolls, and it's everything Public Enemies isn't. Full Review

J. R. Jones
July 2, 2009
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

Mann excels at staging the chaotic bank jobs and bloody shootouts that were just a day at the office for Dillinger, but even at 140 minutes the movie is so dense with incident that there isn't much ro... Full Review

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    • John Dillinger: My ass.
    • John Dillinger: We're having too good a time today. We ain't thinking about tomorrow.
    • John Dillinger: Bye-bye, blackbird.
    • John Dillinger: [nodding at money left by a bank teller in front of his booth] You can put it away. Not here for your money. Here for the bank's money.
    • John Dillinger: [approaching group of police officers] What's the score?
    • John Dillinger: You act like a confident man, Mr. Purvis. Ya got a few qualities. Probly pretty good from a distance, especially when ya got the fella out-numbered. But up-close, toe-to-toe, when somebody's about to die right here, right now... I'm used to that.

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Public Enemies Trivia

  • The Quote "We're having too good a time today. We ain't thinking about tomorrow" is taken from the movie entitled _________.  Answer »
  • "You can be a dead hero or a live coward" is taken from the movie entitled ___________.  Answer »
  • "They ain't tough enough, smart enough or fast enough. I can hit any bank I want, any time. They got to be at every bank, all the time." Quote from the movie entitled _______________.   Answer »
  • The Tagline "America's Most Wanted" is taken from the movie entitled ____________.  Answer »

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