Public Enemies is pretty damned bad. It’s got a good director and a terrific cast. The costumes and sets are beautiful, as is the cinematography. Almost every scene was lovingly crafted.
Problem is, as long as you put Dillinger’s death at the end and his meeting Billie Frechette somewhere near the start, you could pretty much have moved everything else around at random. Half the scenes felt like they weren’t related at all to the ones on either side of them. There was, simply put, no tangible plot to the thing, just a string of almost-interesting scenes.
I wanted to care about Dillinger and Frechette. For three or four minutes, once or twice I almost did. Mainly because Johnny Depp never quite gave up hope that he could make something out of the script he’d been given. But he was fighting a losing battle. There wasn’t enough there to hang a real character on.
Christian Bale did even worse. The character of Purvis had no more substance than the cardboard cutouts in the theater’s lobby ads. Keanu Reeves, the king of flat non-acting, could have done this part. Bale was wasted in it.
There were other actors in there, too. Good ones. None of them got to act. Not for more than ten seconds each, on average. I never even bothered to learn any of their characters’ names.