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Movie Review: PUBLIC ENEMIES

by Joey Paur

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Public Enemies was Michael Mann's latest film. It is his first film since he made that ‘Miami Vice' mess. I've enjoyed all the trailers and film clips for ‘Public Enemies' and they did a great job getting me pumped up to see it. It didn't blow me away like I was hoping it would. I thought for sure Mann had another great film under his belt. I was slightly disappointed in what I saw, but it was still good and I enjoyed it, just not as much as I was hoping.

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My biggest problem with the film was the way it was shot. It was filmed with a digital camera, exactly like Mann's last two films ‘Collateral' and ‘Miami Vice'. But this digital film technique was not the best tool to use for a film like this. I never became fully engulfed in the movie and the story. I was always standing on the outside looking in. Not once did the film hook me and pull me in. I blame this on the way ‘Public Enemies' was shot. The digital film just looks very cheap and very amateur. There was no style to it what-so-ever. The whole film looked like an unfinished product. If you have seen the movie then you know what I am talking about. It was like watching a video production of a stage play. I never felt like the world they were in was real, it all felt set up and fake. I know it's fake and it's a movie! But, if the story is told in the right way you shouldn't feel the fakeness of it. You should be able to forget that you are watching a movie, but with this, everything seemed like it was shot on a sound stage even if it wasn't.

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I think the movie should have been shot on film. It's just that type of story that needs some kind of style, like the way they designed the posters for the film, those had a certain style that should have carried over to the film. I recently watched a documentary on the History Channel about John Dillinger and I got sucked into it. It was interesting and engaging, but the movie had no suction, it just kind of sat there and did its thing without doing much to impress.

Michael Mann's directing style didn't help the movie either. I think an amateur filmmaker or film student could have gone out and shot this movie the way he did, they probably would have done a better job at it too, because they have the drive and desire to have their work noticed. I don't know if he wanted to try and make you feel like you are in the middle of the action, but it just felt like a bunch of guys dressed up in 1930 costumes making a movie.

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There were also some pretty major sound problems in the film, and it just wasn't in the theater we were in. The sound problems carried through with all of the film prints. I don't know if Mann wanted it that way or not, but it sure did annoy the hell out of me. There were some moments where I could barely hear what was being said. It would fade in and out. It didn't work whatever he was trying to do.

Besides the acting in the film there is nothing that special about ‘Public Enemies'. It is a movie that really doesn't need to be seen on the big screen. You can watch it on DVD or blu ray and get the same effect.

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Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, and Marion Cotillard all did a fine job in their performances. It was a lot of the secondary characters in the film that really shined though, like Stephen Graham as Baby Face Nelson, did a great larger than life presentation as the iconic robber.

The story is simple really, of course there are the bank robberies and amazing prison escapes but that not what the movie was really about. It's a battle between cops and robbers, Dillinger and Melvin. Two guys on the opposite side of the law trying to outsmart each other.  I like how they make the real bad guy in the film John Dillinger look like the good guy, and the FBI Character Melvin was portrayed as the bad guy.

I liked the story and I liked the acting. It was an overall good film, but I hated the way it was shot. It was shot like one of those direct to DVD movies. I just think the film could have been so much better had they tried to give the film a little style. The movie was good but plain.

If you have seen the movie please tell me what you thought!

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