Not Number 1

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

Public Enemies - Movie PosterPUBLIC ENEMIES is a disappointment, but it just might get better over time as some movies do when their reputations grow.

However, it has so many problems that that probably won’t happen.

Johnny Depp stars as John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber in the Thirties whom the FBI classified as “Public Enemy Number 1” until he was gunned down on a Chicago street after coming out of a movie theater.

No, that isn’t a “spoiler alert.” It is a historical fact and one of the problems with the movie: You know how it is going to end, and so where is the suspense?

The film starts in 1933, and we are told that it is the fourth year of the Great Depression. Dillinger shows up at a prison where he had just been paroled eight weeks earlier after serving nine years there.

He leads an escape of some prisoners, and as they head off in a getaway car, he says, “Let’s go to Chicago and make some money!”

Now, he doesn’t mean for them to get jobs in the Windy City. He means for them to rob some banks, even though robbing banks is getting harder than it once was.

Meanwhile, we meet Christian Bale as FBI agent Melvin Purvis, the special agent in charge of the Chicago field office. He has just shot and killed Pretty Boy Floyd, another well-known gangster.

In the meantime, Dillinger has picked up a coat-check girl named Billie Frechette, played by Marion Cotillard. He tells her right away that he is John Dillinger and that he robs banks, and he impresses her enough that he manages to get her to quit her job and to leave with him.

Now, there isn’t much of a story arc and what little there is, is confusing.
Depp comes from the Marlon Brando School of Acting with his mumbling, scratching, and twitching, and sometimes you can’t understand what he says.

Also, there are so many characters with their own stories that you can’t tell who they are, and they all look so much alike that you have a hard time telling who got killed and who is still alive.

Some well-known actors, you might not even recognize.

PUBLIC ENEMIES is definitely not Number 1, but it still brings a tear to your eye at the end.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”