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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The increasingly paranoid protagonist looks more and more untrustworthy; the neighbor he suspects of terrorism poses difficult questions about vengeance, grief, and honor; police and FBI appear generally ineffective.
Violence & Scariness
Repeated reports and warnings about terrorist violence (bombs, virus, poison, battles) include numbers of lives lost; reports on hate crimes include brief glimpses of news-style footage. Character uses a gun to hold a hostage; some fighting leaves men with bloody faces and bruises; SWAT team with automatic weapons storms a door; police takedown involves smashing their target to the ground.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and standard in-bed sex between husband and wife (silhouetted close-ups of faces and arms, nothing explicit); joke about sex ("You wanna see my calculator, baby?"); discussion about wife's previous "fetish for rock stars."
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Profanity includes repeated use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "damn," and "ass." Racist terms are used as examples ("raghead," "camel jockey," "sand n---er").
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this mature thriller explores the connections between media-induced paranoia, individual madness, and terrorism. The focus on one man's increasingly doubtful perspective makes the plot ever murkier -- it's hard to tell what's real and what he's imagining. Violence includes hostage-taking at gunpoint, fighting/punching and bloody faces, a man hitting his wife, and a SWAT team storming a door with automatic weapons drawn. A brief early sex scene isn't explicit (close-ups of faces are shown in silhouette). Language reflects the movie's increasing tension and anger, with many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and a string of anti-Arab racist terms (including a variation on the "N" word). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Jeff Renfroe skillfully employs the camera so it looks like we're seeing Terry's perspective, framing close-ups at sharp angles and in deep, greenish-filtered shadows. When Terry at last confronts Gabe, the film lurches into a very tightly focused, essentially two-character standoff as they lob forceful, irate questions about revenge, righteousness, and morality at each other.
These questions are definitely complex and crucial: Would Terry want to avenge his own wife's death? How does ideology frame definitions of good and evil? But the film's subtler questions are just as pressing, as Terry becomes a product of both his personal situation and his broader cultural environment. Even when Terry thinks he's finally attaining self-control, the film suggests he's losing himself. To its credit, Civic Duty doesn't resolve this dilemma but instead leaves it to viewers' judgment -- keeping in mind that you're surrounded by the same media provocations that Terry is.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate