Public Enemies 2009

Critics score:
68 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Ben Lyons, At the Movies: Some strong performances, but I expected more from this great director and stellar cast. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: It's a fascinating bundle of contradictions--authentic in a million details, deeply romanticized in others. Cool, calm and collected, this is more love story than gangster picture. Read more

Scott Von Doviak, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ Even the bank jobs and prison breaks feel perfunctory and enervated. Read more

Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies: ... as strange and exhilarating as riding the running board of John Dillinger's fast, shiny, black getaway car. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: The best rejoinder to Public Enemies is Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal video... It's a tommy-gun gangster fantasia with a touch of Guys and Dolls, and it's everything Public Enemies isn't. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Our connections with Public Enemies remain abstract. The darkness and the distance kill the fun. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: Mann knows exactly how to pace this kind of movie, set to a veritable symphony of gunshots, and Public Enemies feels both wonderfully populated and beautifully controlled. Read more

Keith Phipps, AV Club: Too much of Public Enemies feels disappointingly smaller than life. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Public Enemies is a good movie -- sometimes very good -- that could have been a great one. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: Public Enemies has everything going for it except a reason and a script. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: With Public Enemies, he has made an impressive film of great formal skill, one that inescapably has a brooding dark-night-of-the-soul quality about it. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Mann excels at staging the chaotic bank jobs and bloody shootouts that were just a day at the office for Dillinger, but even at 140 minutes the movie is so dense with incident that there isn't much room for cultural comment or character development. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: It tills the old ground, albeit with new-style star power and Mann's signature cinematic flourishes. But Depp is unduly subdued and Mann's cape work is oversold. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Public Enemies is as elegant and muscular a film as one could hope for in a summer of flash and noise. Which is not to say director Michael Mann's gangster saga lacks flash and simmer. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: More interesting than involving, Public Enemies focuses on history at the expense of the characters that lived that history. It's all story without emotional impact. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: With its measured, team-produced screenplay by Mann, Ronan Bennett, and Ann Biderman, Public Enemies makes heavy business of the notion that Hoover ushered in an era of ethically elastic law-enforcement procedures still recognizable today. Read more

Laremy Legel, In the hands of Michael Mann the film looks great, feels deliberate, and effectively explores our culture's fascination with outlaws. Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly: It's flat and direct, and when a line or two slips out that sounds like it wants to elevate Dillinger's life into a grand theme, it's quickly hammered down. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Michael Mann's extraordinary Public Enemies is an unusual sort of gangster picture, a near-impressionistic recreation of the last year in the life of one of American history's most notorious bank robbers. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Something about Dillinger's bloody, summary death has always nagged at the public; Mann is clearly urging today's audiences to draw its own conclusions. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: The movie is emotionally neutered. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: What's the reason to make this movie, now? Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: The underconceived Public Enemies suffers from that lack of drive, though Johnny Depp is so urgent and charismatic as John Dillinger, he provides enough firepower to make the film legit. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: The fatally miscast Johnny Depp's smaller-than-life performance as the famed gangster is the central flaw in Michael Mann's disappointing, curiously uninvolving Public Enemies. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: Thrilling, glamorous, richly textured and breathlessly action-packed, it is one of the best movies of the year. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: Anyone doubting the role "charisma" plays in the movies need look no further than Public Enemies, an old fashioned gangster picture built on simple star power. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: Ultimately, the movie's a bust. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Although Public Enemies does not ascend to the heights of Bonnie and Clyde or The Untouchables, it is nevertheless an effective depiction of the final months of the life of one of the United States' most infamous criminals. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Here is a film that shrugs off the way we depend on myth to sentimentalize our outlaws. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: It's movie dynamite. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Ultimately an odd blend of frustrating and satisfying. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Director Michael Mann has taken the story of John Dillinger, and has made from it a drama full of dread and atmosphere, a 140-minute film that in no way seems long, that's a succession of compelling scenes, with no dead wood. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: It's like spending an afternoon -- a long one -- at a beautifully lit wax-museum display inspired by earlier gangster movies. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: It fits neatly on the shelf with Bonnie and Clyde and The Godfather. Read more

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: As sophisticated as it is entertaining, Public Enemies isn't the sort of film that's usually associated with the summer. But it has more than enough firepower to be a blockbuster. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: What's strangely missing from this social picture is any image of the economic misery that made Dillinger a folk hero. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Mann and co-screenwriters Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman faithfully adapt the Dillinger portion of Bryan Burrough's absorbing 2004 book by the same name, using the same locations where famous breakouts and shootouts occurred. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: All this docudrama grit allows for precious little dramatic juice. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: It might sound damning to say that the film resembles a bullet-riddled carcass just barely clinging to life, but it's exactly this ephemeral sensation, which Mann sustains for the entire two hours plus, that distinguishes Public Enemies. Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: It's a fascinating moment in history, and Mann captures the cars, the guns and the buildings with painstaking, immersive authenticity. Read more

Christopher Orr, The New Republic: If John Dillinger had not existed... Michael Mann would have had to invent him. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Director Michael Mann mounts a technically proficient, visually enthralling crime drama anchored by the low-key but captivating performance of Johnny Depp as legendary bank robber John Dillinger. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: Overall impact is muted. 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 gregarious. Read more

Scott Foundas, Village Voice: Even when Dillinger is at rest, Public Enemies exudes a nervous tension, the sense that flight is imminent. Read more

Dan Zak, Washington Post: Public Enemies, despite packing thunderous rounds of ammunition, is a touch too remote. Read more