July 1, 2009, - 9:39 am
By Debbie Schlussel
If you’re planning on seeing “Public Enemies,” in theaters today, make sure you ingest a lot of caffeine. It’s slow and boring and seemed like it went on forever.
Last week, I told you about how “Public Enemies” star Johnny Depp said, “I’m a big fan” of John Dillinger, the cop-killing bank-robber he plays in the movie’s lead role. He also said, “I actually hope people root for him, too.”
Although I originally looked forward to the movie, I was worried that “Public Enemies” would glorify Dillinger, the way Depp did in press interviews. Fortunately, that did not come to pass. It shows Johnny Depp as violent and the crowd with which he ran as equally violent and murderous.
It does, however, show FBI agents as women-beaters and far less humane toward women than law enforcement. FBI agents are shown beating Dillinger’s girlfriend and denying bathroom privileges to her, causing her to urinate in the chair to which she’s chained. (The girlfriend, played by 9/11 Truther Marion Cotillard with a horrible attempt at an American accent–her real French accent rears its head at every turn. Cotillard took lessons to drop her French accent. She needs to sue the teacher for malpractice.) Dillinger, on the other hand, is shown as loyal to a fault when it comes to women, even the hookers.
Could have done without the indignant scene of Agent Purvis’ secretary lecturing him, “Mr. Purvis, they cannot treat a woman this way.” I thought I was hearing the ACLU lecture us on how to treat Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the rest of his Islamic terrorist buds.
Moreover, the movie shouldn’t have been called, “Public Enemies,” which fools you into thinking that the movie provides equal time to both Dillinger and FBI Agent Melvin Purvis (played by Christian Bale), the lead agent on his case. It doesn’t. Clearly, this movie is about Dillinger, with Depp as the star and Bale as a co-star, much like the Heath Ledger’s Joker was the real star of “The Dark Knight,” and Bale’s Batman was the co-star of that one. Insofar as that goes, the villain is elevated, the hero diminished.
The movie is very slow-moving and boring. There’s no excitement, little suspense. It’s rare that you see such an action-packed film–complete with lots of bank robbery and shoot ‘em up scenes–that is so unexciting and slow. But this movie was exactly that. A silly love story, with cheesy lines and dialogue doesn’t help, but it’s quite obvious that was thrown in to give something to women who go to see it. I wasn’t buying, including when Dillinger cries over his girl, although I can’t say I didn’t smile seeing America-hating Depp shed tears.
The love story gives rise to one of the most gratuitous lines in the flick, in which Depp suggests he join his girlfriend in a tub:
Me and my friend, Prince Albert, will join you.
Um, is this a major motion picture or a bad Ron Jeremy porno?
My favorite scene in the movie is when a young J. Edgar Hoover testifies before a Congressional committee, seeking more money for his interstate manhunt of Dillinger and other criminals. He’s repeatedly asked by a Congressman to reveal the number of times he has personally ever made an actual arrest. He finally answers, “None,” and repeatedly decleared, “But I am an administrator.” The Congressman tells him that makes him completely unqualified to head the FBI or any law enforcement agency.
I wanted to shout out to the theater, “Where is this Congressman when we need him?” None of the people heading our law enforcement agencies have this qualification, and they’re all completely unqualified. Janet Napolitano, Robert Mueller, etc. None of ‘em have ever made a single arrest in their lives. The same went for former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chieftess Julie L. Myers a/k/a “The ICE Princess,” and her Obama replacement John Morton.
The male stars in this movie are nice to look at, as are their suave clothes–sharp, dapper suits from the days when men’s sartorial splendor was all that. And the sets and cars from the 1930’s are also beautiful. If only the script and the storyline had such exquisite attention paid to them.
But they did not.
In fact, we barely see much of some of the other crooks with whom Dillinger hung. Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) is killed off in the first five minutes, and we don’t know why. The movie is basically this: Dillinger in prison, Dillinger broken out of prison, Dillinger lives openly among the public who support and protect him, Dillinger falls in love, Dillinger robs banks, Dillinger in with the mob, Dillinger out with the mob, Dillinger tracked down, set up, and shot, the end.
I like a good gangster movie or crime thriller. But “Public Enemies” is only mildly entertaining, and not entertaining enough to make it worthy of your $10 bucks. I’m glad it’s not the pan-criminal revisionist propaganda I feared.
But it’s just not a great movie. Not even good. It’s just eh.
HALF A REAGAN