MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
Peter Krause as TERRY ALLEN
Kari Matchett as MARLA ALLEN
Richard Schiff as AGENT TOM HILARY
Khaled Abol Naga as GABE HASSAN
Directed by: Jeff Renfroe
Studio: 20th Century Fox
BY KEVIN CARR
This fall, as Hollywood is gearing up for an all-out assault on the conflict in the Middle East with films like “The Kingdom,” “Rendition” and “In the Valley of Elah,” independent cinema already staked this claim with “Civic Duty.”
The film follows a laid off accountant named Terry (Peter Krause) who slowly goes insane from paranoia when an Arab moves into his apartment complex. At first, Terry’s suspicions seem unfounded. However, he soon discovers what he believes to be bomb-making equipment in the guy’s apartment, and later the man threatens him and his wife. After being put in his place by the FBI, Terry decides to take matters into his own hands.
To a certain degree, “Civic Duty” carries a decent message of the dangers and sometimes necessity of being paranoid in a post-9/11 world. However, in an attempt to not take sides, the film degenerates into ambiguity. It will challenge you to think about how you would handle a similar situation, and hopefully we would not be as unstable as Terry is.
“Civic Duty” mostly suffers from overwriting. It’s clear that from script to screen, the filmmakers were trying to show us the struggle that Terry faces, but it manifests itself in temper tantrums and weak character actions like explosive rage. By the end, I found it hard to sympathize with Terry because he acted too much like a nut case.