Treading well-worn cinematic territory, Civic Duty would have had to be brilliantly conceived and directed to even work as a mold-breaking thriller. As it is, however, it's an ineptly put-together concoction that, despite its political musings, offers nothing new to the viewer. Like other recent American movies about terrorism, such as Sorry, Haters and The War Within, Civic Duty lays the blame for the rise of Islamic terror squarely at the feet of the U.S. or its citizens—a view that, post-9/11, some might find not only deeply offensive and insensitive but astonishingly wrong-headed.
Since the filmmakers have that agenda to push, to the detriment of a cohesive and compelling story, it's no surprise that its cast is forced into one-dimensional roles to support the film's insistent point of view. Krause, for one, doesn't get to display an ounce of the nuance and complexity that informed his character Nate Fisher on the superb Six Feet Under TV series. The rest of the actors, including Egyptian heartthrob Khaled Abol Naga, making his American film debut as Allen's neighbor, and Kari Matchett (TV's 24 ) as Allen's concerned wife, don't fare any better.
Only Richard Schiff (TV's
The West Wing
) as a harried but skeptical FBI agent who becomes entwined in Allen's conspiracy theories, suggests something more than a placard-wearing symbol, but the movie's overblown dialogue, predictable plot twists and use of second-rate thriller motifs soon force him into the same constricting box as everyone else in the film. Audiences who venture out to
are liable to relate.
Cast: Peter Krause, Richard Schiff, Kari Matchett, Ian Tracey and Khaled Abol Naga
Director: Jeff Renfroe
Screenwriter: Andrew Joiner
Producers: Andrew Lanter, Tina Pehme, Kim Roberts, Peter Krause and Andrew Joiner
Rating: R for language and some threatening situations
Running time: 94 min.
Release date: May 4, 2007 ltd