Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Directed by Michael Mann
Written by Michael Mann, Ronan Bennett, Ann Biderman (screenplay); Bryan Burrough (book)
Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard
Release date(s) Out Now
Running time 139 minutes
If there's one thing people love, it's a rebel. The outlaw is always more famous than the lawman who killed him, and John Dillinger, the subject of this film, is one of the most famous in American history.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Dillinger rose to prominence robbing banks, hoisted on to the pedestal of fame by a story hungry media and Government looking for a distraction. This film tells the story of the manhunt that ensued.
Billy Crudup, recently seen playing Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen makes an appearance as the beleaguered head of the FBI J Edgar Hoover, showing again what a capable and versatile actor he is. And of course, Christian Bale plays the second of the two heavyweights in this film, top agent Melvin Purvis, and for the first time in a while actually earns some positive commentary for putting in a spot on performance.
But of course, it is Johnny Depp that most people want to see here as the outlaw himself Dillinger. Depp is starting to firmly cement his position as one of the top actors in the world right now and does himself justice in this role. Not to sound like I have a man-crush but Depp being on screen seems to make any scene watchable these days, even when the film itself is a bit lackluster.
Speaking of which, this film is not anywhere near as good as it should be, so it's a good thing it has two charismatic leads.
This film is set up to be a classic mano-a-mano battle between two badasses. Films that follow that formula are generally pretty good. In recent years just look at Catch Me if You Can, No Country for Old Men and in a different way Frost-Nixon for films that carry this out with aplomb.
Unfortunately this film falls a little flat. You have two interesting characters ably performed by likable actors, and yet you never really feel caught up in the proceedings. The tension constantly feels artificial, and not quite enough time is spent getting to know the characters themselves, as opposed to just seeing them 'in action' as it were. The aforementioned golden boys from this genre succeed by getting into the characters' heads and really offering a deep and personal insight.
Here's a film with all the makings of something kick ass, and yet it's like a loaded gun that keeps jamming when you attempt to fire it. It's not a bad film by any means, but at the same time it's too superficial to really be a great piece of cinema.