Public Enemies (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Public Enemies2009

Public Enemies (2009)



Critic Consensus: Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.

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Movie Info

Based on author Bryan Burrough's ambitious tome Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43, director Michael Mann's sprawling historical crime drama follows the efforts of top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale ) in capturing notorious bank robber John Dillinger. A folk hero to the American public thanks to his penchant for robbing the banks that many people believed responsible for the Great Depression, charming bandit Dillinger (Johnny Depp) was virtually unstoppable at the height of his criminal career; no jail could hold him, and his exploits endeared him to the common people while making headlines across the country. J. Edgar Hoover's (Billy Crudup) FBI was just coming into formation, and what better way for the ambitious lawman to transform his fledgling Bureau of Investigation into a national police force than to capture the gang that always gets away? Determined to bust Dillinger and his crew, which also included sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), Hoover christened Dillinger the country's very first Public Enemy Number One, and unleashed Purvis to take them down by whatever means necessary. But Purvis underestimated Dillinger's ingenuity as a master criminal, and after embarking on a frantic series of chases and shoot-outs, the dashing agent humbly surmised that he was in over his head. Outwitted and outgunned, Purvis knew that his only hope for busting Dillinger's gang was to baptize a crew of Western ex-lawmen as official agents, and orchestrate a series of betrayals so cunning that even America's criminal mastermind wouldn't know what hit him. Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, and Stephen Dorff co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Johnny Depp
as John Dillinger
Christian Bale
as Melvin Purvis
Marion Cotillard
as Billie Frechette
Billy Crudup
as J. Edgar Hoover
Channing Tatum
as "Pretty Boy" Floyd
Stephen Graham
as "Baby Face" Nelson
Giovanni Ribisi
as Alvin Karpis
Jason Clarke
as John "Red" Hamilton
Stephen Lang
as Charles Winstead
Stephen Dorff
as Homer Van Meter
David Wenham
as Harry "Pete" Pierpont
Rory Cochrane
as Agent Carter Baum
Emilie De Ravin
as Barbara Patzke
Shawn Hatosy
as Agent John Madala
John Michael Bolger
as Martin Zarkovich
Matt Craven
as Gerry Campbell
Peter Gerety
as Louis Piquett
Don Frye
as Clarence Hurt
Branka Katic
as Anna Sage
John Ortiz
as Phil D'Andrea
David Warshofsky
as Warden Baker
Domenick Lombardozzi
as Gilbert Catena
Bill Camp
as Frank Nitti
Carey Mulligan
as Carol Slayman
James Russo
as Water Dietrich
Christian Stolte
as Charles Makley
John Judd
as Turnkey
Michael Vieau
as Ed Shouse
Wesley Walker
as Jim Lesley
John Scherp
as Earl Adams
John Kishline
as Guard Dainard
Elena Kenney
as Viola Norris
Lili Taylor
as Sheriff Lillian Holley
Madison Dirks
as Agent Warren Barton
Len Bajenski
as Police Chief Fultz
Andrew Krukowski
as Oscar Lieboldt
Casey Siemaszko
as Harry Berman
Peter DeFaria
as Grover Weyland
Brian Connelly
as Officer Chester Boyard
Ed Bruce
as Senator McKellar
Geoffrey Cantor
as Harry Suydam
Jeff Shannon
as Angry Cop
Chandler Williams
as Clyde Tolson
Diana Krall
as Torch Singer
Richard Short
as Agent Sam Cowley
Randy Ryan
as Agent Julius Rice
Kurt Naeberg
as Agent William Rorer
John Hoogenakker
as Agent Hugh Clegg
Adam Mucci
as Agent Harold Reinecke
Kurt Naebig
as Agent William Rorer
Rebecca Spence
as Doris Rogers
Danni Simon
as May Minczeles
Shanyn Leigh
as Helen Gillis
Spencer Garrett
as Tommy Carroll
Alan Wilder
as Robert Estill
Kris Wolff
as Deputy
Michael Bentt
as Herbert Youngblood
John Lister
as Judge Murray
Jim Carrane
as Sam Cahoon
Rick Uecker
as Edward Saager
Mark Vallarta
as Harry Berg
Dan Maldanado
as Jacob Solomon
Sean Rosales
as Joe Pawlowski
Stephen Spencer
as Emil Wanatka
Gareth Saxe
as Agent Ray Suran
Guy Van Swearingen
as Agent Ralph Brown
Jeff Still
as Jimmy Probasco
Lance Baker
as Freddie Barker
Steve Key
as Doc Barker
Leelee Sobieski
as Polly Hamilton
Martie Sanders
as Irene the Ticket Taker
Gerald Goff
as Captain O'Neill
Keith Kupferer
as Agent Sopsic
Robyn Suzanne Scott
as Ella Natasky
Duane Sharp
as Doorman at Gold Coast
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News & Interviews for Public Enemies

Critic Reviews for Public Enemies

All Critics (281) | Top Critics (76)

There is much to admire in this film... But it's as if the whole thing has been emotionally cauterised. It holds you at arm's length. As such, I found it peculiarly unsatisfying. If it had been a restaurant meal, I'd have come home and had a sandwich.

August 29, 2018 | Full Review…

... it was entertaining, but quite long.

September 12, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

The desperate times in which we suddenly find ourselves ... make Public Enemies seem especially timely.

September 24, 2014 | Full Review…

You can put together all the elements that should create gold and yet without that charmed, mysterious sprinkle of cinematic pixie dust, the alchemy fails to work.

August 11, 2009 | Rating: C-
Top Critic

A triumph of pure cinema, Public Enemies is one of the most visually experimental films of Mann's career.

July 31, 2009 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

There's a lot to admire, but it's not up to the standard of Mann's, or Depp's, best work.

July 29, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/5

Audience Reviews for Public Enemies


Public Enemies is the story of infamous depression era bank robber John Dillinger who became a kind of mythic Robin Hood style figure in the eyes of the poverty stricken American public of the time. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale starring in a legendary true-life gangster story directed by the man who brought us Heat? Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?? Errrrm...evidently, yes it could. Once again, as always seems to be the case with over-hyped Hollywood blockbusters, the script is the usual suspect when assigning blame for missed opportunities. We all know what Depp and Bale are capable of, but here they have so little to work with its difficult for me to find fault with them. The film is basically just a series of beautifully shot shoot outs and jail breaks loosely strung together by a skeletal plot involving next to no character depth or development. We know nothing about their motives or how they reached this point in their lives and seem to have no meaningful relationships with any of the supporting characters. The visual side of things cannot really be faulted however and the set pieces are expertly handled by Mann, but the shadow of the infinitely superior Heat looms over the entire proceedings. 10/10 for style, but 5/10 for substance.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Nice to finally see Johnny Depp not in a weird/cooky role. The film had a lot of action and a great story even though it was pretty lengthy. The fact that it's based on real people and events makes it all the better.

Eric Alvarez
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

Solid direction by Mann and a great performance from Depp, towards the end it really gets good.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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