Public Enemies

Theatrical Release: July 1, 2009
Public Enemies


In the action-thriller “Public Enemies,” acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in the story of legendary Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger (Depp)—the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), and a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public.

No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone—from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.

But while the adventures of Dillinger’s gang—later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi)—thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw’s capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America’s first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing “Clark Gable of the FBI.’’

However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis’ men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) and orchestrating epic betrayals—from the infamous “Lady in Red’’ to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti—were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.

Dove Review

Johnny Depp gives a vivid performance as gangster John Dillinger, the Depression-era outlaw who robbed banks and became J. Edgar Hoover’s and the FBI’s public enemy number one. Depp, who has played everything from Willy Wonka to Captain Jack Sparrow, brings an edge and hardness to this role, mixed in with a villain’s charisma, which really enables him to bring this character to life. The film captures his bank robberies and jailbreaks in a precise, methodical method, and the story of this bad-boy from the past is told with solid direction. Viewers who are fascinated by the criminal mind would find it to be interesting for sure.

Despite the movie’s revelations of what happens to people who break the law, regrettably the picture contains some very strong language, violence with blood, a brief nudity scene, in addition to promiscuous sex. We therefore are unable to award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to the film as a family-friendly movie.

Content Description

Sex: Kissing; implied sexual relationship between unmarried couple and some of their initial lovemaking is seen although no nudity; a couple of sexual innuendos; a close-up shot on a woman's rear.
Language: GD-6; Ch*ist-1; F-1; SOB-2; B-3; "Go to H"-1; H-3; D-5; S-2; Pr*cks-1; Fat Boy-1; Dumb Egg-1; A couple references to "whores".
Violence: A lot of people shot in the movie with bloody results including prison guards, police officers and gangsters; prison guards attacked; guns held on patrons at bank and bank manager; several bank robberies; a guard is beaten and blood pours; a man is struck in leg with bullet; criminal on the run is hit in mid section with bullet and bleeds and dies; shoot-outs between the police and gangsters and several of them are killed; hostages tied to tree; a police officer slaps a female witness several times who refuses to talk; an FBI agent is shot; a captured criminal is hit in head; a criminal is shot in arm and his bloody wound is seen; a shot criminal cries out in pain; a car rolls over.
Drugs: Drinking and smoking of cigarettes in several scenes.
Nudity: Woman's bare breast briefly exposed; woman's leg and thigh exposed in bath tub.
Other: A woman being held for witnessing is not allowed to go to the bathroom and wets herself; disrespect of criminals toward police.


Company: Universal Pictures
Writer: Ronan Bennett and Michael Mann
Director: Michael Mann
Producer: Kevin Misher
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 140 min.
Industry Rating: R
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter