36. John Dillinger In Public Enemies (2009)

Assassinated By: Charles Winstead
Cause of Death: Shot through the head from behind

Public Enemies is overlong, uneven, and intent on devoting time to several characters that distract from Johnny Depp’s strong central performance as reputed Chicago gangster John Dillinger. Those are our gripes; thinking optimistically, though, director Michael Mann’s choice to shoot the period gangster flick with an HD camera and traditional 35 mm film was quite inspired.

In crystal clear HD, the film’s shootouts and prison breakout sequences feel like on-the-ground documentary footage. For Dillinger’s last stand, Mann pushed for a more dreamlike effect, with cuts between slo-mo and normal speeds and awkwardly framed closeups of Dillinger. Giving the scene a tragic tone, Mann also makes it easy for us to hate Dillinger’s assassins, feeding into the movie’s overall glamorization of the notorious criminal. Only chumps, and that diesel bad guy from Avatar, shoot unarmed men from behind.

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