Civic Duty


Mixed or average reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 17
  2. Negative: 4 out of 17

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Critic Reviews

  1. Though Civic Duty seems to be a study in paranoid psychosis, it has just enough ambiguity to make you wonder if it isn't something else. You'll still be wondering when it's all over.
  2. While the film doesn't fully succeed in its striving for a Hitchcock-style ambiguity in its storytelling, it is consistently engrossing in its exploration of the fine line between civic duty and vigilantism.
  3. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Unfolding largely within the confines of a single apartment complex, the well-structured scenario is arresting but ill-served by an overly fussy visual treatment from helmer Jeff Renfroe, while Peter Krause's increasingly psychotic performance as an amateur snoop frequently threatens to cross the line between forceful and off-putting.
  4. 60
    Expected ironies about homeland security, racial profiling, and fears of the Other land like a rain of anvils, and director Renfroe matches Krause's worked-up performance with a jiggly, flashy approximation of off-brand Tony Scott.
  5. By the time the movie introduces an element of ambivalence in the story, lecture hall ennui has long ago set in, and no amount of jittery horror movie conventions can change it. With nowhere for any of the characters to go, literally, the story becomes a tendentious exercise in belaboring a point.
  6. Ultimately less psychological thriller than polemic about the effects of living in an atmosphere of paranoia fed by daily threat-level assessments and round-the-clock TV news-channel coverage of fear-mongering speeches.
  7. 50
    Shooting in digital video, director Jeff Renfroe needlessly amps up the proceedings with jittery camerawork, jump cuts, and other technical hiccups meant to disorient the audience.
  8. The film is all cliched atmospherics and no real insight.
  9. 50
    It's a subject that guarantees a certain amount of liberal tongue clucking, though director Jeff Renfroe wisely concentrates on suspense instead of sermons.
  10. 50
    Director Jeff Renfroe and screenwriter Andrew Joiner's flashy psychological thriller wants to say something important about the dangers of a fear-mongering media and resultant ethnic profiling in an age of terrorism, but their warnings are undone by a tricky plot that tries to have it both ways while leaving the audience arguing among themselves as to what it all means.
  11. Civic Duty stands out amid the new wave of terrorism-paranoia thrillers. It's a taut drama set primarily within the confines of two apartments in the same urban building complex and keeps the viewer guessing until the end regarding the reliability of its two central protagonists.
  12. Initially promising, ultimately irritating psychological thriller.
  13. A noble try that disappoints.
  14. A clammy little number that might've been funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
  15. It wants to make an important political statement, which might have been dandy if it had anything remotely cogent to say.
  16. 38
    Peter Krause, the fine actor from "Six Feet Under," gives a one-note performance that seriously undermines Civic Duty, a thriller mining minimal dramatic payoff from the potentially potent subject of post-9/11 paranoia.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Faced with a limited location and concept, Renfroe points his camera everywhere: The movie's seriously overshot, never settling for one angle when five would do.

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