Peter Krause (Nate on Six Feet Under) plays a crank whose terrorism paranoia drives him to spy on his “Middle Eastern-looking” neighbor, Gabe. He’s got the Falling Down blues, updated to the Bush era: recently fired, lapped by mortgage payments, and hypnotized by omnipresent crisis television. His wife (Cate Blanchett ringer, Kari Matchett) emasculates him by being polite to Gabe (who is played by Egyptian actor Khaled Abol Naga). In one of the movie’s laughable escalations, she walks out over her husband’s racial profiling after he calls in an FBI agent (Richard Schiff, Toby on The West Wing).
Shrill and slapdash, Civic Duty is aggravated by insistently jittery camerawork and a double-underlining score. A drawn-out climax presses Gabe into service as baiting monologuist for the movie’s gasping commentary on War on Terror hypocrisy. There are many points to be made, but everything about Civic Duty’s embarrassing leftie pandering feels strained and a little off, much like Krause’s unbalanced amateur antiterrorist sleuth.
Opens May 4