Monday, July 6, 2009

Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale

I went to see this movie for Christian Bale, (I'm a huge fan,) but I came away impressed by the whole thing. It's rated R and is 142 minutes long.

This movie tells the story of John Dillinger, wanted gangster played by Johnny Depp, and Melvin Purvis, the lawman assigned to bring him in, played by Christian Bale. (Sort of like a 1934 gangsters version of 3:10 to Yuma. But not.) I won't go into much of the plot beyond that, both because it was pretty straightforward and because I wouldn't want to give anything away.

Obviously a lot of money and time was spent on this. The costumes and scenery are striking and memorable. (And while I'm no expert on the 30s, they looked authentic to me and evoked the perfect atmosphere.)

However, neither the plot nor the props were the most impressive thing about the movie. I was absolutely blown away by the acting.

Depp gets the most screen time, and while I've never been a huge fan before, I now think he's a genius. Dillinger is a complex, sympathetic, sexy, scary criminal. Everything about him rang true, every scene got us deeper into his head. He's sort of noble criminal, apparently with lot of fans amongst the public, but at the same time he's unpredictable and frightening.

Bale is just as much of a genius, but without the screen time to display it so obviously. (Maybe he's even more of a genius, because he can make such a memorable character without all that many scenes or even all that many lines.) You have to really dig into Purvis to see what makes him tick, and you probably won't know by the end of the movie if your theory is correct, but you feel for him all the same. He wants badly to do a good job, is driven to bring Dillinger in, but doesn't know how far he can go before it's too far. His men trust him, but does he trust himself?

The conflict between these two characters is a confluence of forces rather than a boxing match, and that's what drives the movie. We see what each one is doing, but we have no idea what's going to happen when the two forces collide. It's intense, and it delivers on its promise.

Definitely one to go see and pay attention to.

Buy Public Enemies

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