Warning: He doesn't like it and doesn't mince words
Glossy, somewhat stylish, good production value and all that, but almost completely inert. I wasn't "bored," and it's not a complete and utter failure, but it's probably the least interesting movie Michael Mann's ever made. There is zero character definition. No one has an arc of any sort -- we learn NOTHING about any of the three central characters -- and the "action" isn't particularly compelling, at least not enough to compensate for the complete dearth of emotion or thematic complexity. It's the height of "this happened, and then this happened..." storytelling, without ever giving us a reason to care. There's a couple well-shot shootouts/carchases, but the movie's never EXCITING, and Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale are playing completely flat, undefined, static characters. Dillinger (Depp) robs banks. What do we learn about him over the course of the movie? He's nice and won't take civilians' money. That's all we get. Purvis (Bale) wants to catch Dillinger. Why is he so driven? We don't know. He's told right at the beginning of the movie by J. Edgar Hoover "catch Dillinger" and that's about it. He never grows "obsessive" or shows us what's lurking behind the curtain (i.e. making the character interesting) -- he just wants to catch Dillinger. There's no parallels between the two, they have no real back-and-forth, we aren't shown comparisons and contrasts.Um, Ouch. And so hot on the heels of his birthday, too. Have you no heart?We don't get a clue why Billie (Cotillard) and Dillinger care about each other, we just see them kiss occasionally. Depp gets one quick scene of humanity, Cotillard gets two, and boring Bale gets none -- there's a lot of hollow brooding and flat delivery here. I read some interview where Mann said he had Depp lay himself "bare emotionally" for this part or some such remark -- horseshit. This might be the laziest performance Depp's given in the last decade
Without the occasional cool music track and the clear, crisp, digital look of the film, we'd get almost no stamps of Mann. There might be some Mann apologists on this one, but I think response is going to be overwhelmingly muted, if not outright dismayed.I asked him where he falls on the Mann-Fann spectrum and he claims he's generally a devotee. "I even like Ali and Miami Vice" he assures. Another confirmed Mann junkie, In Contention's Kris Tapley has already expressed a (very) positive reaction. Perhaps it'll be a divisive picture? I had thought we were looking at our earliest real Oscar contender but then Up happened. If Enemies does disappoint, we might not see any of the Oscar players that will pop Up's balloon (prepare yourself kids. If even WALL•E couldn't do it...) until October or November.
Public Enemies opens on Wednesday, July 1st.