Public Enemies

Released 2009


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Movie Summary

Michael Mann
Public Enemies is a crime film directed by award-winning Michael Mann that focuses on the true story of the cat and mouse game between the Bureau of Investigation’s agent Melvin Puris (Christian Bale) and criminals John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham), and Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum). Set in the times of the Great Depression, John Dillinger is a smooth and charming bank robber, even successfully breaking six of his gang members out of the Indiana State Prison. The escalating violence of Dillinger’s crimes, more due to the actions of Nelson than Dillinger, leads to Puris’s promotion by J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) on the nation’s first ever “War on Crime”, finally persecuting criminals for interstate crimes. With cop shootouts, bank robberies, and the constant hunt from the feds, Dillinger is labeled as a Public Enemy Number One, though Dillinger only wants to complete one last job so he can escape together with his love, Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard). Public Enemies is based on the non-fiction novel, Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough and offers a dynamic and grave recreation of a memorable period of criminal history.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 90

    The New York Times Manohla Dargis

    A grave and beautiful work of art.

  • 90

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    Simultaneously an art film and a crime film, Mann's latest work may not give you a ton to hang on to emotionally, but the beauty and skill of the filmmaking keep you tightly in its...

  • 50

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    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 grega...

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Biography, Historical, Thrillers, Crime