Based on author Bryan Burrough's ambitious tome Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43, director Michael Mann's sprawling historical crime drama follows the efforts of top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale ) in capturing notorious bank robber John Dillinger. A folk hero to the American public thanks to his penchant for robbing the banks that many people believed responsible for the Great Depression, charming bandit Dillinger (Johnny Depp) was virtually unstoppable at the height of his criminal career; no jail could hold him, and his exploits endeared him to the common people while making headlines across the country. J. Edgar Hoover's (Billy Crudup) FBI was just coming into formation, and what better way for the ambitious lawman to transform his fledgling Bureau of Investigation into a national police force than to capture the gang that always gets away? Determined to bust Dillinger and his crew, which also included sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), Hoover christened Dillinger the country's very first Public Enemy Number One, and unleashed Purvis to take them down by whatever means necessary. But Purvis underestimated Dillinger's ingenuity as a master criminal, and after embarking on a frantic series of chases and shoot-outs, the dashing agent humbly surmised that he was in over his head. Outwitted and outgunned, Purvis knew that his only hope for busting Dillinger's gang was to baptize a crew of Western ex-lawmen as official agents, and orchestrate a series of betrayals so cunning that even America's criminal mastermind wouldn't know what hit him. Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, and Stephen Dorff co-star.
by Jason Buchanan synopsis