I rented Public Enemies on Blu-Ray today, and it was by far the biggest let down of the year. Where to start ? I’m not a big of Michael Mann, but I really liked Heat and Collateral. When I saw the all-star cast that Public Enemies had, I had high expectations. Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marillon Cotillard…is it really possible to make a bad movie with these guys ? Apparently Mann managed to do it, and did it really well.
I have to admit that I’m not one to easily notice good or bad character development. I usually make my opinion on how much I rooted for the good guy or how much I hated the bad guy for that matter. But Public Enemies is just totally off as far as character development. The characters are shallow, it’s hard to tell one gangster from another since they’re all alike and you barely know their names. You get no background on any character, and not a single character “evolves” during the story.
I also found the story totally uneven. The rhythm is so up and down all the time that it’s hard to get into the movie.
But what really, really sucks about Public Enemies is the photography. It’s a shame that a $100 million movie shot with a $150 000 Sony camera has the same quality of image I could get out of my $4000 camcorder. Some clueless people will blame this on the fact that it was shot in HD, but that is a weak argument. Many great-looking movies have been shot in HD, the best example being Slumdog Millionaire. It isn’t the case for Public Enemies. The footage has no depth, is often very grainy, as if the scene lacked lighting, or as if the camera’s settings were totally off. It feels like watching the 6 o’clock news. And speaking of lighting, it is a total failure. Some shots just don’t feel right. *Spoiler alert* When Depp’s friend is dying in the backseat of a stolen car at night, he’s almost not lit while the back of Depp’s head looks like it is in broad day light. It’s weird because Dante Spinotti was director of photography, and I think he’s been nominated twice for an Academy Award.
Mr. Mann, you’ll have to do better next time…