With Public Enemies , Michael Mann has delivered a drama about a gangster whose name does not end in a vowel that has drawn the kind of praise from critics that they had previously reserved for The Sopranos . Manohla Dargis in the New York Times describes the movie about the last days of John Dillinger as "a grave and beautiful work of art." She adds that it "looks and plays like no other American gangster film I can think of." That is the theme of several other reviews. "You might not think it was possible to make a film about the most famous outlaw of the 1930s without cliches and 'star chemistry' and a film class screenplay structure, but Mann does it," writes Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. "The beauty and the skill of the filmmaking keep you tightly in its grasp," says Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. Claudia Puig in USA Today comments, "An action film that feels like an epic, Public Enemies is an exciting and stylish slice of Americana." "The film is gripping and efficient," says Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel, noting that Depp as gangster John Dillinger and Christian Bale as G-man Melvin Purvis "make compelling enemies with charisma to burn." And comparing it to its rivals at the box office, Tom Maurstad in the Dallas Morning News remarks that the movie "appears as an oasis of adult entertainment." On the other hand, Lou Lumenick in the New York Post calls the film, "disappointing, curiously uninvolving." Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News faults it for being "underconceived." And Dan Zak in the Washington Post faults Johnny Depp, who "dials down his weirdness to play gangster John Dillinger and, ironically, this choice sinks the movie."

01/07/2009