Fortunately, what's lost in character development is almost made up for in style. Getting each detail of the era just right, Mann's work is visually stunning. And unlike this summer's big blockbusters like Transformers and Wolverine, the action scenes are gritty and realistic, which isn't always easy to watch, but is far more authentic—especially in HD format. There's also plenty of emotional resonance that gives this gangster film a heartbeat, particularly in the scenes between Depp and Cotillard, who have great chemistry.

But for those hoping for a flick that provides clear lines between good and evil, Public Enemies isn't that movie. While it provides timely food for thought on issues like the role of police enforcement and the use of extreme torture methods in capturing criminals, it never provides any hard and fast answers and essentially leaves it up to the viewer to decide what's wrong and what's right. And in the case of John Dillinger and everyone involved and invested in his case, the question of whether crime does pay is still an intriguing one, given the story's outcome.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Social drinking and cigarette smoking.
  • Language/Profanity:  There's very little profanity, aside from one use of the "f" word. The Lord's name is also misused on several occasions.
  • Sex/Nudity:  There's one quick love scene between John and Billie with no nudity. In another scene, Billie is shown taking a bath, but the murky water obscures a view of anything gratuitous.
  • Violence:  Given the genre of movie, it's probably no surprise that violence is where the bulk of the film's R rating comes from. There are several scenes with extended, brutal gunfire and a high body count as a result. Close-ups of bloodied victims are prevalent, and there's a realism to the violence that makes it more shocking than your average flick.

 

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.