Public Enemies

G-Man gonna get those gangsters!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: March 15, 2022 (URL is not
Available on: Netflix
Content release date: 2009-07-01

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Review Rating: 7

Head FBI G-Man Melvin Purvis chases notorious crime lords John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during the 1930’s.

There’s actually a lot of American history tied in with the stories of these men, unfortunately most of it isn’t included in the film. No nods are given to how Dillinger got to the point of robbing banks, for fun or profit; nothing about the personal life and the sheer drive of G-Man Melvin Purvis; not a thing about why the public actually began to see Dillinger as a kind of folk hero, other than being damn attractive. Thankfully most of the movie is shot in soft greys, not in sepia tones, which would have royally annoyed me.

Johnny Depp does a fine job for the role of Dillinger, and boy does he look awesome in those night-blue suits and that purple fedora! (I kind of doubt Dillinger actually wore those, here’s hoping it’s a nod to Depp’s next role as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.) And of course Christian Bale looks wonderful in the suits he gets to wear as Purvis, despite usually being charcoal grey or navy. Most of the male main characters get amazing suits to run around like peacocks in, whereas most of the female characters have rather drab dresses. It’s a good thing the costuming is so fine, the story itself leaves a lot to be desired. Just seeing Depp run around while being chased by Bale is rather limp. It does get a little better in the fight scene at the cabin in the woods, when Baby Face Nelson goes off the chain like a whirling dervish, and kills a lot of people plus gets his dumb self killed too. (Nevermind that that didn’t actually happen in real life, Nelson was killed in a gunfight months after Dillinger’s death.) And another memorable scene towards the end, the hunt is on for Dillinger and he knows his time is running out, so what does he do? Why, he walks right into a police office and speaks with some lower-ranking members of the Dillinger hunt squad. (Which DID actually happen in real life.) Sadly, that’s about all that’s memorable however. Most people with an interest in the history of these men as the reason to see this film, prepare to be disappointed.

I would have thought for a film where Johnny Depp and Christian Bale finally starred together, that it would blow my mind with more something more than a gun.