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By Doug Brunell | September 13, 2009

A Lackluster Protest

What happens when you get some paranoid, slightly pretentious people making a movie inspired by the Patriot Act? You get a film with an interesting premise that thinks it has more power than it actually does and in the end, is a failure. And that’s putting it nicely.

The story is the best thing going for “A Patriot Act.” A young drug user named Tony (Tony Demil) works with a Pakistani who supplies him with drugs. Feds are watching this foreigner for whatever reason and Tony gets dragged into a good ol’ U.S. interrogation session (though it is fairly constrained when compared to real-life interrogation techniques). It ends with an on-screen warning to the Feds from the filmmakers that “we” are watching them, too, so they better act properly. I’m sure they’re scared.

While the story looks good on paper, the actual execution is lacking in almost every aspect. Bad acting, stilted dialogue, and cheap camera effects (which are there to add an element of realism and tension but actually come across as amateurish in the worst degree) are in abundance. These things ruin what could have been a really good film with something important to say.

The movie would have been mandatory viewing had it been in other hands. Writer Wendy Keith has a good idea (but needs to work on dialogue) that gets destroyed by the other people involved in the film. In the future she may want to shop it around, though my guess is that if these guys stop taking themselves so seriously and concentrate on actual filmmaking they may make something that lives up to their ideals.

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