The new documentary film, "Enemies of the State," (available on 7/30 on VOD), has all the ingredients for a good true-crime story. There are secret agents, hackers, FBI and CIA cover-ups, stolen thumb drives with confidential government files on them and a seemingly normal American family caught up in the middle.
But what exactly is "Enemies of the State" trying to say? It paints a daunting picture of what the government does behind-the-scenes when faced with a supposed national security threat, but even as it ended, I wasn't exactly sure what I had just been told, or even what to believe based on what had just been presented to me.
"Enemies of the State" is mostly about Matt DeHart, a former U.S. Air National Guard intelligence analyst who was caught up in the "Anonymous" hackers, who was in turn tied to WikeLeaks. DeHart and some of his Air National Guard buddies allegedly had come across some seriously damaging intel involving a CIA/FBI cover-up. But the young man was wrongfully imprisoned, questioned and then tortured - his life being ruined in the process - and then ultimately charged with what appeared to be bogus claims of child pornography.
Matt's parents - Paul and Leann - are interviewed in the film, and actual recordings of court depositions with Matt and others are matched with actors who reenact some of the sessions. Reenactments are a growing trend in modern-day documentaries, but don't always effectively add to the story-telling at hand. In this case, it creates another layer of confusion, as you'll find yourself wondering occasionally if what you are watching is real.
While what is alleged from both sides is abhorrent, "Enemies of the State" is all over the place, to the point of confusion. You also wait for a major reveal or revelation that never quite comes.
Sure, the case of Matt DeHart is an important modern American story, but as presented in "Enemies of the State," it just doesn't provide any clarity, therefore not having the impact that perhaps it should have.
Run Time: 1 hour 43 minutes.
Directed by Sonia Kennebeck ("National Bird," "Sex: Made in Germany").
"Enemies of the State" is available On Demand on Friday, July 30th, 2021.
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