‘ENEMIES OF THE STATE’ Review | Documentary Thriller

At this point, most people who frequent the internet have probably at least heard of the group Anonymous. A new documentary from director Sonia Kennebeck focuses on the story of Matt Dehart, who was linked to the online group and a web of potential conspiracy theories that includes lies, deceit, torture, and child pornography. Dehart’s story is messy and difficult to fully comprehend, which can be an accurate description of the documentary as well. Let’s take a closer look at our Enemies of the State review.

If you’re unfamiliar with Dehart’s story, that’s probably what Kennebeck is hoping for when people watch her documentary. Going into it with little to no knowledge of the real events allows Kennebeck to paint a picture of two sides at the battle. On one side you have the Dehart family that includes Paul and Leann Dehart, along with their son, Matt. On the other side, you have the U.S. government, which is primarily represented by various CIA and FBI agents.

Matt Dehart ran a server for the online group, Anonymous. At one point, someone uploaded extremely sensitive files to Matt’s server. This eventually led to the server being wiped and Matt storing all of these files on thumb drives, fleeing the country, and eventually seeking asylum in Canada.

Throughout the beginning of the documentary, the audience is led to believe that Matt is innocent. While there are several interviews with various government officials, reporters, and professors, a bulk of the “evidence” presented here points toward Matt being innocent. As the film progresses, more and more light is shed on the real facts of the case.

The various twists and turns of the film make it seem more like a spy thriller than a documentary. Several scenes are showcased through the use of actors with the original audio dubbed over their performance. These scenes bring the documentary to life and add a fair amount of emotion to the film. The audience will start to care about the Dehart family and worry about who else the U.S. government has done this to.

One issue with the way the documentary plays out is that if you’re already familiar with the details of the Dehart case, a large bulk of the film becomes more tedious than entertaining. Instead of drawing emotion from many of the scenes early in the film, it feels more like pandering to the audience in order to cause an emotional response.

Enemies of the State offers an interesting take on the documentary formula. If you’re unaware of the Dehart case, this format absolutely works and brings the documentary to life. Audiences will absolutely connect with the content early in the film and embrace Dehart’s cause.

The problem with Enemies of the State is that all these twists and turns do not work if you know more than a few passing details about the case. While a documentary should be entertaining, Enemies of the State feels more like a work of fiction than a traditional documentary. For some, that approach will work extremely well, but for others, it will surely feel more deceptive than informative.

About Enemies of the State

Synopsis: An American family becomes entangled in a bizarre web of secrets and lies when their hacker son is targeted by the U.S. government, making them all enemies of the state.

Director: Sonia Kennebeck

Stars: Joel Widman, Christopher Clark, James Donahower

Rated: Not Rated

Runtime: 1 Hour, 43 Minutes

documentary, enemies of the state, movie review, sonia kennebeck

Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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