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"Civic Duty" is a 2006 film that deals with the sort of paranoid over-reaction to the terrorist attack that I had suspected might become commonplace. Terry Allen (Peter Krause) has just lost his job as an accountant and without work to keep his mind occupied he becomes obsessed with coverage of the War on Terror on cable television. Especially since a "Middle Eastern" looking young man (Khaled Abol Naga) has moved into an apartment that Terry can see from his window. We already know that Terry is predisposed to see the worst in people after he cruelly points out to a smiling bank teller the idiotic redundancy of the term "ATM Machine." Like those strange little beings on those annoying television commercials, Terry stars off sour and then tries to be sweet. It is just that we never really buy it, any more than we can really believe that there is a terrorist in that other apartment. The more desperate Terry is to believe it, the more we resist the idea. But is the film just toying with us?Read more ›
Cons: Message is too heavy-handed, taking away some realism. Film tends to be dramatically claustrophobic. It does not matter if it was intended, it still needed air.
Where They Went Wrong: There is an anti-American diatribe against American Foreign Policy to rebut the cruel treatment of women in certain Middle-Eastern countries. This did nothing to lend to the films credibility and came off as ridiculous, unfair, and one sided. Conflicts (wars) are completely different than inhumane domestic policy. Even if those conflicts are wrong. The whole screed was a misnomer.
Where They Went Right: The symbolism of Krause's angry disposition serving as Americas general hostility, fed by media hype and propaganda. This predisposition made the whole chaotic scenario almost believable.
This film was enjoyable, just wish it would have been more well-rounded.
Also, we could've used this film circa 2004...whatever.
Peter Krause plays a recently unemployed accountant. Preoccupied with the state of the world--the television and radio news reports are a non-stop barrage of terrorism reporting--Krause begins to observe some suspicious goings-on with his new Middle Eastern neighbor. Late night trash drops, odd packages being delivered, sparse living conditions--Krause is adamant that the neighbor (Khaled Abol Naga) fits the profile of someone with a secret agenda. His wife (the always appreciated Kari Matchett) is dismissive. Does Krause simply have too much time on his hands, is he just too upset with his bleak circumstances? Or might he be on to something? He becomes more aggressive--entering the guy's apartment, trailing him and even contacting the FBI. Becoming more and more unhinged, Krause is determined to see this through to the end.
Unfortunately, the plot can be far too convenient when necessary. Krause just happens to find the neighbor's door open for the sole reason of advancing his suspicions. Krause also becomes obsessive almost instantly--on the first night of his unemployment! It's all too easy and quick (there are other relevant examples but I hesitate to share more of the story). The final confrontation also results in a rather unbelievable consequence.Read more ›
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