Arts 443

Published on July 1st, 2009 | by Greg


Public Enemies- Boring AND Historically Inaccurate

Typically, if you're making a period piece or semi-biopic major motion picture and aiming for both critical and commercial success, you face a choice. You end up balancing between potentially putting audiences through a history lesson, or skewing the past to make things tie together or move faster.

Public Enemies does both, satisfying neither audiences looking for an action gangster movie nor those aiming for accuracy, and winds up being little more than mildly interesting. With recognizable actors in all sorts of roles, you end up being pulled out of the movie. And the film was obviously digitally shot, sometimes a bit shaky, and that ends up being distracting as well despite the excellent cinematography and typically high-quality production values.

The film glosses over details, changes chronologies, and reduces one of the most feared and respected gangsters to a mere villain you kind of root for, since he's Johnny Depp. Neither the score nor sound were particularly compelling, and the couple of decent action sequences couldn't rescue a sort of Heat-lite with too many faces and often-limp dialogue. Even Christian Bale, who is brilliant at playing characters with an edge and a bit of darkness, is handed a role as a seemingly straight-laced, uncomplex cop and thus seems a bit miscast. There are definitely reasons to see the movie- Marion Cotillard is excellent, if given barely enough to work with.

But generally, it's easy enough to leave with a shrug. A sad thing given some of Mann's priors, and the cinematic topic at hand. You'd think it'd be hard to both make gangsters boring and mess up history, but Public Enemies manages. Too bad too. Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face, J. Edgar Hoover, prison escapes, fake guns… sounds like a good movie to me.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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