Sonia Kennebeck’s “Enemies of the State” spirals and swirls in an approach that’s meant to boost the “isn’t this loopy” side of its true story, however, its filmmaking methods have turn into cliched within the period of True Crime obsession. Ultimately, what’s true and what’s not concerning the case of Matt DeHart will get hazier with every subsequent revelation on this too-often cluttered movie, one which leans into conspiracy theories with a purpose to make itself extra entertaining. As an alternative to peeling again layers of this fascinating story, Kennebeck weighs it down with overheated filmmaking, soundbites that sound scripted, and a scarcity of true confidence within the story that’s being instructed. Was Matt DeHart a pedophile or a hacker who stumbled onto authorities’ secrets and techniques so intense that they framed him with a purpose to preserve him quiet? What if each may very well be true?
In 2009, Matt DeHart was arrested for possessing baby pornography, however, he nearly instantly accused the federal government of framing him for his involvement with WikiLeaks and the hacker group often known as Nameless. Along with his mother and father Paul and Leann serving as primarily his spokespeople, a story was constructed that positioned DeHart in the identical breath as somebody like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. He found the reality about one thing the federal government couldn’t enable out and they also trumped up costs, threw him in jail, and even tortured him.
Kennebeck does uncover some exceptional paperwork that helps DeHart’s allegations in opposition to the federal government, together with an enchanting doc during which he signed away “Consent to Assume Online Id,” giving brokers not solely entry to his internet knowledge however tacit approval to faux to be him. At this level within the movie, it’s presumed this unbelievable doc that I did not know was even doable is to entrap extra couriers within the Wikileaks universe, however, couldn’t it simply as simply have been to entrap these concerned within the baby pornography that DeHart was accused of possessing? “Enemies of the State” repeatedly performs on this grey space the place we’re meant to be unsure about not solely Matt DeHart’s guilt however how a lot his mother and father performed a task in crafting his narrative. They labored time beyond regulation to construct the narrative that folks have been watching all three of the DeHarts, and proceed to take action.
Additionally, they undeniably tried to assist him to escape justice, first getting Matt to a Russian embassy, the place he could have at the very least tried to commerce state secrets and techniques, after which to Canada, the place his public persona as a prosecuted hero of the Snowden period was actually constructed. Think about if none of it’s true after which take into account the victims of DeHart watching his face be placed on t-shirts. It’s stomach-churning. And there’s an enchanting story to be instructed about somebody who very doubtless was a predator discovering an approach by way of the web period to show himself into an icon.
Nonetheless, “Enemies of the State” isn’t fairly that film. Kennebeck by no means finds the precise throughline and chooses a construction of exaggerated revelations over perception. A greater movie would have put all of it on the desk early after which requested viewers to unpack not solely what they give thought to DeHart however what his story says about our authorities and web tradition. She will get there, but it surely’s after a trudging assortment of overheated soundbites like “Secrets and techniques and shadows have been in all places on this story.” A little or no little bit of that goes a good distance, and numerous the set-ups in “Enemies of the State” really feel as compelled as that quip. For instance, when Matt’s mother pulled a Man Fawkes masks out of her son’s bureau, I felt like I used to be getting used, and I wasn’t certain if it was my mother or the filmmaker. (Or each.) And there are a number of too many recreations right here for my style. Whereas it’s good of Kennebeck to make use of the true audio, a number of them begin to really feel exploitative, particularly within the closing act when an incriminating telephone name is unearthed. Why use an actress there? Feels a bit ghoulish.
What’s the true story of Matt DeHart? Solely he’ll ever totally know. He undeniably tried to change the narrative after getting on the radar of the authorities, however, did he accomplish that as a result of he was hiding his evil nature or working from an authority who was attempting to silence him? And the way would we all know the distinction? It’s an enchanting story. I solely want I felt like “Enemies of the State” knew to inform it.