Short Script Review of PUBLIC ENEMIES
Posted by ColliderStaff
Hello to all my fans in La La Land. It’s Your Friendly Neighborhood Fidel from Florida here. I’m back to yap at ya about something set to grab the silver screen and shake it down.
Public Enemies was written by Ronan Bennett with revisions by Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice) and Ann Biderman (Smilla’s Sense of Snow). The draft was dated November 2007. Needless to say, things can change since the strike is over, but Universal greenlit the movie based on this draft.
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd, Pirates of the Carribean) is set to star as John Dillinger and, on the opposite side of the coin, Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, 3:10 to Yuma) as Melvin Purvis. Fresh off the Oscar win, Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) is going to raise her status instantly in her turn as Dillinger’s squeeze Billie Frechette. Channing Tatum (Step Up, GI Joe), Giovanni Ribisi (My Name is Earl, Friends) and Stephen Dorff (Blade, S.F.W.) are set to round out the cast and some of Dillinger’s criminal cohorts.
THE STORY Public Enemies focuses on John Dillinger from around the time he meets Billie Frechette to his death at the hands of law enforcement. This is also the story of the lawman, Melvin Purvis, set to task by J. Edger Hoover to bring him in.
THE SKINNY John Dillinger is a gentleman’s bandit. While he’ll rob from a bank, he won’t take the customers’ cash as well. He’s a charmer and quick to sweep coat check girl Billie Frechette off her feet. He’s also a loyal friend and we first see him starting a jail break to bust pals out of the clink. These qualities elevate him to the status of a cult hero which makes Hoover all the more keen on catching him.
Melvin Purvis is a square-jawed lawman who finds himself in the deep end. After nailing Pretty Boy Floyd, he gets assigned to bring down Dillinger for Hoover and the Feds. Dillinger’s craftiness leads to some slip ups which wear down on Purvis. He isn’t out to make a name for himself, but learns early on his role to make a name for Hoover. Ultimately, Purvis sees Hoover for the bag of hot air that he is.
These two men are set on a collision course with bodies left in the wake.
The writing is terse and to the point, but easily conveys the tone and the world of crime-riddled 1930s Chicago. With a couple of robberies, the constant chase and some well-known criminals thrown in, the pace and excitement never slow. I think the weight of the love story will fall on Depp and Cotillard, but they’re up to the challenge. I’m really looking forward to Depp playing more of a standard leading man role after some fantastic, but fantastical, roles.
The thought of Depp vs. Bale has my knees weak in a totally hetero way. Those of you who caught Bale in 3:10 to Yuma know what he can do with a somewhat reticent lawman role.
THE FINAL WORD This cast and story spell good things for Michael Mann. Mann just so happens to know his way around a crime flick and Public Enemies is a love letter to the gangster films of old. The Untouchables comes to mind as its more recent movie kin.