While Terry spends his days following Hassan and breaking into his home, Marla introduces herself to Hassan with some flowers and considers her “civic duty” done. Creating a dichotomy of action versus passivity, it appears more as sanity versus paranoid insanity.
Terry goes as far as to report Gabe Hassan to the FBI, introducing Agent Hillary (Richard Schiff, “The West Wing”) into the storyline. Government employed to discover terrorists, Hillary is versed in the red tape that accompanies all terrorist suspicions in order to protect individual liberties.
Hillary indulges Allen's concerns with an open ear but refuses to take action. Allen grows increasingly impatient and decides to take matters into his own hands. From then on, Allen spirals out of control as he breaks all legal and moral laws in the pursuit of modern day heroism.
Krause was so attracted to the concept for this film he signed on as a producer and participated in multiple marathon sessions with the writer, director and other actors to create a political forum that would bear an evolved script. Krause is very much concerned with the psychological aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, pointing out the alert paranoia festering beneath the surface of many Americans.
Terry represents this helplessness, living in a world that constantly reminds him of the uncontrollable dangers at bay, accentuated further by him losing his job and therefore, forfeiting his bank loan, his new home and eventually his wife. In this vulnerable, helpless void, while desperately seeking some sort of reasoning, the American political media infiltrates every aspect of Terry's life.
Agent Hillary is steadfast and tired, reasonable and relatable in a narrative of unbelievable chaos. His calculated words and gesticulations in real life carry over to his filmic personality, lending him a trusting likeability that provides an anchor within the film.
Schiff is outspoken but gently tempered, and with deeply furrowed brows holds a reserved intelligence as he states, “I felt a sense of responsibility to the content of the film, one I didn't feel in Jurassic Park 2 .”
Schiff spent many hours researching at the FBI's counter terrorist unit, attempting to articulate the reality of being a federal agent within his character. With the self proclaimed “curse” of examining the overall film narrative before studying his own character role, he squirms with apprehension and distaste if the details of his character or character's actions do not fit perfectly within the narrative's reason.
Schiff comments on this inability to purely act what's handed to him, as his roots in theater direction create an inability to act two-dimensionally. “I wanted to be a director. I didn't care for acting: I still don't,” Schiff insists in his matter-of-fact tone that commands authority and respect.
“It's up to the artists now,” Krause states in regards to this nation's last chance at mobilizing its silent majority. “The meaning of public servant has been lost along the way.”
While the news and media become colored with entertainment, it's crucial that the most persuasive art forms like film step up to the plate and attempt to inspire the American public out of this inactive impass. Civic Duty can be appreciated for its attempts at stoking a political forum and employing the passionate hearts of Krause and Schiff.
Civic Duty releases in select theaters May 4.