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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Big Guns, Little Impact


Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard | R | []


Pick a story and tell it. That’s the key to any successful movie. In this disappointing would-be epic about 1930s bank robber John Dillinger, director-cowriter Michael Mann (Miami Vice) tries to tell way too many stories, and it’s never clear which one he cares about most. Is it about Dillinger (Depp) being a people’s hero, robbing banks but never his fellow citizens? Or about Dillinger, aware his time on Earth would be short, living life to the fullest, including a tender romance with a hat check girl (Cotillard, who’s excellent)? Or is it about how FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) set out to nail Dillinger—an effort led by dedicated lawman Melvin Purvis (Bale)—to increase his own power and that of his fledgling agency?

Mann weaves all these threads and more into Enemies, but the resulting cloth is ragged and incomplete. Depp, magnetic as ever, layers his portrayal with humor, gallantry and a flinty resolve, but he still gets lost in the muddle around him.