Thursday, August 20, 2009

Public Enemies - Borrows the looks from "The Untouchables", but not its soul

" We're having too good a time today. We ain't thinking about tomorrow. " - John Dillinger

The Buildup - When I first checked out the profile of "Public Enemies" at IMDB, I literally jumped off the seat and promised myself that this is to be watched in a big screen with the company of people who shared my same enthusiasm. How better can this be? A gangster flick directed by Michael Mann, the same man who gave us the modern day crime saga "Heat", the gritty drama/thriller "The Insider" and the slick and stylish "Collateral" , and when you got Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, possibly the two most dynamic actors in recent times square off against each other, you will believe that it has all the makings of a classic.

The Makeup - I got to see the movie in a theatre called "Innovative" in Bangalore when I had went there for a weekend. At first it sounded like a name of a software company to me. The steep price(Rs.180 per person) for an ordinary theatre which could not hold a candle in front of namma Ega did not deter me from going for it, its a Michael Mann film after all, granted his last venture "Miami Vice" was a dud but The Man(n) has hit a formula for a blockbuster this time, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale directed by Michael Mann in a gangster flick, "He cant miss it this time!!" I said to myself, having full faith in the master director's abilities. Even the lack of crowd in the theatre did not succeed in being a party pooper, "Poor bastards, they have no idea what they are missing" I thought, I was in high spirits. As the lights went off and the reels started to turn, I waited with bated breath for the magic to unfold.

The Followup - "Public Enemies" will always draw comparisons with "The Untouchables"
because of its theme and the look, but the feel is something which you may not get, maybe the main reason being the use of Hi-Def digital cameras which for me killed its soul. It gave the movie a home- video kind of a look, with an amateurish feel to it. The character development was minimal for John Dillinger who is shown as a cross between Casanova and Capone, wooing the luscious Marion Cotillard with a charming lines "I like baseball, movies, good clothes, whiskey, fast cars... and you. What else you need to know? ". There were some scenes which were well made, the scene which depicted the audacity of Dillinger where he visits the police quarters, and asks the score from a cop adn walks away unnoticed, and the final scene where Dillinger watching a movie finds some similarity between him and Clark Gable are a few to name. But on the whole, there were not many scenes which would linger in you mind for long.

Public Enemies is a Johnny Depp movie where he did not have to try too much to be John Dillinger, Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis, the agent assigned to bring Dillinger to justice does not have much of a screen time when compared to Depp. Marion Cotillard does a neat job of Billie Frechette, Billy Crudup as Edgar Hoover does justice to his role. The cinematography with the hand held camera may kill the feel , and the intro music for Christian Bale (Ten Million Slaves- Otis Taylor) which is being used in the trailer as well may make you to download it.

The Last Word : Watching a movie as "Public Enemies" without expectations is impossible. Had Michael Mann pictured it on film instead of Digital Camera it may have atleast come close to matching my expectations. A one time watch.

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