In an opening distinctly reminiscent of The Matrix's lobby shootout, Johnny Depp strides up the stairs to the sound of a thumping soundtrack.
Meet John Dillinger
Over this scene of Dillinger and his gang getting down to some good, old fashioned (well, it is the '30s, so to them it's modern day) bank robbery, we hear Marion Cottillard ask, "What is it exactly you do for a living?" "John Dillinger. I rob banks," he replies. Way to explain the plot in less than six words, JD.
Cotillard's Billie Frechette is all winsome smirk and French attitude. "That’s a serious thing to say to a girl you just met."
"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars… And you. What else do you need to know?" declares Dillinger in reply. For a second there we thought he was going to add, "long walks on the beach at sunset and kittens." But no such luck. Oh, and the movie's called "Cooled"? Sounds awful. Wait... that means the air conditioning. Oh, you crazy '30s fleapits.
Here we see Dillinger's legendary Matador techique of getting women to fall for him. First person to make a "he has a big sword, too" joke gets a punch up the bracket.
Dillinger shows off his jumping skills as he vaults a barrier. He could've walked around it, but he likes to show off when he's holding a lethal weapon.
I am the law
Blimey, Dr Manhattan's let himself go... Wait, no, that's just Billy Crudup as J Edgar Hoover. "Today I am declaring The United States Of America’s first war on crime," he tells the press in a suspiciously modern sounding turn of phrase. We're just grateful they don't show him in a dress. He used to like doing that, you know.
A man named Purvis
Who's this? Why, it's Christian Bale as Agent Melvin Purvis, voted Silliest Named Agent three years running a the Bureau Of Investigation. He's a tough nut,though. "Your task will be to get John Dillinger. Are you up to that task, agent Purvis?" asked Hoover. "Absolutely, sir," comes the reply. Somehow it's odd to have Bale chasing criminals without using a gruff voice.
Dillinger's gang clearly didn't worry about wasting bullets. "The men we’re pursuing are hardened killers," explains Purvis. We watch Depp coax a bank manager into opening the vault through the power of Having A Gun To His Head. But he refuses to take a customer's cash. "We're here for the bank's money," he explains.
Saturday night at the movies
Dillinger smiles as he watches a newsreel about himself. At the local cinema. What an ego! But he really did do this - and Mann shot most of the movie at the real places where Dillinger and go hung out. "The whole country thinks you’re a damn hero," one of Dillinger's men tells him.
Good grief... It's Stephen Dorff In Good Film Shocker. Well, probably good. We're hopeful.
Ouch! Dillinger takes a shotgun butt to the head as Purvis' team burst in on a quiet moment between him and Frechette, who was trying to enjoy a relaxing bath. Didn't they see the Agents, Please Knock Down Our Door Later sign hanging on the knob?
No room for nudes
"Put some clothes on, miss," orders the clearly unimpressed gun-wielder who knocked Dillinger down. What. A. Spoilsport.
"They’re extraditing you," a captured Dillinger is told. "Where to?" "Indiana." There's just a touch of Captain Jack in Depp's response here: "Why? I have absolutely nothing I want to do in Indiana." On behalf of Indiana, heeey.... ah, he's right. There isn't much there.
Dillinger is peppered with questions from an eager press. "How long did it take you to go through a bank?" "About one minute, forty seconds. Flat." Bet he doesn't tell the girls that. Zing!
In a few of these scenes, you really start to see the digital footage. Sometimes it looks great and puts you in the action. Other times? It's distracting, like watching a home video.
Purvis arrives to taunt his captive. "Well, here’s the man who killed Pretty Boy Floyd," says Dillinger and we cut to Purvis gunning Channing Tatum down. We wonder if he shouted, "That was for Step Up 2 The Streets!" as he did it. We doubt it. "Only way that you will leave a jail cell is when we take you out to execute you," purrs Purvis. "Well, we’ll see about that," replies Dillinger.
Run for it!
And he's right - Dillinger and co break out of jail without needing fancy poster plans or rock hammers. Suck it, Andy Dufresne!
Dillinger cases a bank undercover as Hunter S Thompson. Which is clever, since Thompson hasn't been born yet. And won't be famous for ages. "We’re too good for ‘em," Dillinger voice-overs. "They ain’t tough enough, smart enough or fast enough. I hit any bank I want any time. They got to be at every bank all the time."
Credit where it's due
Apparently, Marion Cotillard insists this sign is carried a foot away from her face at all times. Okay, maybe not - but you can't imagine Depp or Bale feeling that great when they see the credit.
Things turn nasty for Dillinger's gang when Purvis hires real-life gunslingers to hunt them down. Here, a Little Chef bears the brunt of a gun fight.
Christian Bale. With another gun, blasting away. What is this, National Give Bale A Gun Week in Hollywood?
Incidentally, the song that plays over this final segment is Ten Million Slaves, by Otis Taylor. You can hear it in full here .
Two Gun Johnny
And your closing shot- Dillinger in a moment from the first bank robbery we saw in the trailer, going all John Woo on the proceedings.
So then... despite some odd musical choices and the occasionally strange looking digital footage, Mann's latest looks to be a stylish, smooth crime thriller. We're giddy with anticipation...