Criminals get glammed up

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 July, 2009, 12:00am

If crime were really as easy and glamorous as Johnny Depp makes it look in Public Enemies, more people would be tempted to quit their day jobs.

Michael Mann's biopic of 1930s criminal mastermind and 'public enemy number 1', John Dillinger (Depp), demonstrates how ridiculously easily Dillinger outwitted the greatest crime fighters in the United States. But ultimately even this gentleman thief got his comeuppance.

Leading the hunt for the bank robber is Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale), chosen by the first FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) for his relentlessness when tracking a fugitive.

There are few surprises plot-wise - when you're telling a true story, it's hard to deviate too far from what actually happened. But the performances and attention to pre-second-world-war detail make this essential viewing. From the sets and dapper suits to the sound of the cars and the gun muzzle flash, everything in this film not only looks period, it would be easy to believe you were actually in 1933.

There is some violence, but this is not a slasher flick; what blood you see or gun shots you hear are far from gratuitous.

Mann even makes time for a romantic subplot, introducing Dillinger's coat-check girlfriend Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard).

If you like your films to look like artwork and your actors to be, rather than just portray, their characters, don't miss this.

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