Hey folks, Harry here... Up front a warning - MacGuyver states at the end of his review that you should probably skip the review and just see the film when it comes out. But he does say it is better than ALI & MIAMI VICE in its current form, though not at the classic status of Mann's LAST OF THE MOHICANS or HEAT. Of course - he is also saying that when the film he saw didn't have a real score in place, wasn't color timed, didn't have much of its finished digital trickery in place - and was an initial loose edit at two hours and 40 minutes. In otherwords, putting this film in any sort of place in Mann's career versus finished films... well is a bit jumping the gun. There's a whole lot of movie-making yet to be done on this sucker - and Mann is someone known for having his films getting increasingly superior through the editing and post-production process. I'm dying to see this one.
Hi Harry, L.A. spy MacGuyver here... I've been away for a while but finally caught a test screening worth talking about again. Just got back from a screening of Michael Mann's Public Enemies with Johnny Depp as gangster John Dillinger and Christian Bale as the FBI agent hunting him. Mr. Mann was in attendance, in fact he sat right behind me and kept rudely kicking my seat and smacking his bubble gum when he wasn't gabbing on his cell phone throughout... some people are just so rude. I finally told him to shut up or I'd call the theater manager. Anyway, the movie runs about 2 hours 40 minutes right now by my estimation, and could stand to lose about 15 minutes. But seeing as it doesn't come out until next July he's got plenty of time to work on it. As of now I'd give it a B+ but I do think that it will get better. The cast is excellent - everyone. Johnny Depp is charming and funny and Bale does a fine "serious man-on-a-mission". It starts off with a dramatic breakout of Johnny's gang from prison with a pretty killer Mann caliber shootout, and then we meet Christion Bale as a rising star in the FBI tapped to lead the manhunt for Dillinger. J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup - excellent) hand picks him for the job and while the scenes with Hoover are good and somewhat entertaining by themselves I don't think they necessarily contribute that much to the movie. There is obviously supposed to be some tension between Hoover and Bale's FBI guy over how Bale should operate and what kind of agent's he should use, but it's underdeveloped and when there's a final showdown between the two men in the end you just don't care much. To make that subplot worthwhile would probably just extend the movie, which is moving in the wrong direction, so cutting it back or out might be a better choice. Just a guess... I don't know anything. The biggest weakness overall though was the adversarial relationship between Bale"s FBI guy "Melvin Purvis" and Depp's Dillinger, which is surprising because Mann usually does that so well - setting up two competent adversaries on a collision course. Here Purvis keep's somewhat blowing it, making the wrong choices and being countered and sometimes scolded by guys that are supposed to be working under him. I guess they're trying to show how desperate he's getting to catch Dillinger under pressure from Hoover, but it was at the expense of the tension between Purvis and Dillinger which was the direction they seemed to be going early on. There is a Deniro vs. Pacino moment early in the film, reminiscent of the diner scene from Heat, where the two lead actors meet and challenge each other - but after that their relationshp is pretty much dropped. There's no setup's where on barely outsmarts the other, no taunting or signals sent from one to the other. I would have liked to have seen more of that. Also, I just never really got any idea of what drives Bale's character... he's somewhat underdeveloped. The best part is the love story between Dillinger and actress Marion Cotillard from La Vie en Rose, who plays a bright girl leading a fairly simple life who Dillinger falls in love with (rather quickly - but it's humorous and it works). Their relationship is well developed and the most effective storyline, interleaved well in to the movie as to not take away from the action for too long... which is important because that is what michael mann does best and there's plenty of it in this movie. Only one actio scene didn't work well for me, a nighttime assault by the FBI on a cabin hideout, which was confusing and dragged on for too long in the cabin location before turning in to a pursuit and gunfight. Mann usually sets up his action scenes so well that you know who's shooting at what and where people are located as the adversaries try to manuever for positions, but that wasn't the case here. I imagine it can be fixed in editing. The film was clearly shot on digital, which I'm usually fine with, but it was jarring at first because it takes place in the 1930's and the "video look" didn't quite jibe with that. After about a half hour I forgot about it though and got lost in the movie, except for a few shot's throughout where the image was blown out in bright light and reminded me that it was video. It could also be a matter of finishing the coloring because some scenes seemed to have a more muted sepia look and this worked well, but some didn't and had vivid video like colors which was distracting. I do think this will be a terrific movie when it's done, way better than Ali and better than Miami Vice (which I enjoyed), but not a classic like Heat or Last of the Mohicans. In closing I'd like to say that you shouldn't read this review, it's probably just better to wait until next summer and not know anything about it when you go in. Too late?