Thursday, July 23, 2009


Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, David Wenham, James Russo,Billy Crudup, Stephen Lang, Stephen Dorff

"America's most wanted"

Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

Chicago in the early 1930s was hit with a series of crime waves. Bank robberies, gangsters, illegal gambling made the headlines in the newspapers. It was also the period when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the staunch leadership of J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Cudrup) was being tested for its mettle.

Taking center stage in this Michael Mann film are the enigmatic bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and his nemesis, FBI Agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Yet it merely presented a short episode in the lives of its main characters. It basically lacked an in depth characterization about their true personalities. Perhaps they could have mentioned what drove Dillinger to commit bank robberies or how Purvis's relentless pursuit affected his family. But I guess that would take 2 separate full length autobiographical movies in some sort of semi-documentary format to further explore their psyches.

Nevertheless, the roles were well portrayed by Depp and Bale. Depp fashionably dressed for the part in his long black coat and fedora hat was brilliant to watch. He portrayed Dillinger a hardened bank robber in a sympathetic light. A gangster prone to extreme violence yet he also reveals a soft side when it comes to romance. As well as telling people at the banks he robbed that he only took the bank's money and not the people's loose change. Or something to that effect. The newspapers back then tend to glorify criminals and society developed a strange celebrity fascination towards them. I guess some sense of escape during the harsh Depression times.

Bale as Agent Melvin Purvis was a character driven with reckless imprudence. A dedicated law enforcer who would stop at nothing to capture his prey. Yet at the same time he was incorruptible and strictly adhered to the rules of the agency he willingly served.

It was difficult to focus on some scenes (it made me dizzy) as Mann used a hand held digital technique. Extreme close up shots to wide angle views of the Chicago landscape contributed to the realistic cinematography. Lavish set designs and authentic wardrobe did transport you back to the Depression era of the early 1930s. The film also had its vast array of well executed action scenes. There were intricate car chases, loads of gunfights and bloody encounters in true grand Hollywood production style. But it is well balanced with some romantic sequences between Dillinger and his lady love Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) so it isn't just merely a bang bang bang film.

Overall the film despite lacking some profound character analysis was coherent and well paced with a good ensemble cast. It exuded an old Hollywood vibe reminiscent of those old Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart movies. For me, it was worth watching if only to see Johnny Depp weave his artistic skill into yet another meaty role as John Dillinger.

2 popcorn buckets:

TV Shows on DVD said...

I love this film! Awesome acting by Johnny Depp and Christian Bale!


D@phn3 L@ur@ said...

I love Johnny Depp! :D


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