This leads to what might be the most salient point of Public Enemies. Michael Mann was very committed to making this movie as accurate as possible. A climatic shootout between the FBI and Dillinger’s gang occurred at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Wisconsin. This scene in the film was shot at the actual location of the shootout. Bullet holes can still be found in the walls and spent shell casings are present outside amidst the foliage. An exciting escape from prison is shot in the same prison the real outlaw escaped from. In an example of history being better than fiction, the exact same escape tactics are shown in the film as those used in the thrilling real life escape. Depp falls exactly where the real Dillinger was gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, which was transformed to look like 1934 for the film.
The special features in this Special Edition DVD are both entertaining and informative. Featurettes about the real Dillinger and Purvis are fascinating and feature lots of good interviews with Depp, Bale, and Mann. One featurette examines all of the real locations used for the film. Another one focuses on the guns and cars used by the Dillinger gang and how the cast was trained to use them realistically. A feature commentary by Mann offers all of the insight you would expect from one of the most talented directors making movies today.
Mann’s dedication to detail and accuracy really comes through as the entire movie is an appeal to quality. When I initially watched the movie in theaters this summer, I was entertained but slightly underwhelmed. After subsequent viewings, the nuances of the characters and the actors’ fine performances were more noticeable and my appreciation for the movie continues to grow with every additional viewing. You owe it to yourself to see one of the best movies of 2009.