Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism didn’t really stand out from this summer’s crowded field of lefty films. But director Robert Greenwald can claim one distinction: He’s the first liberal documentarian to snag the elusive quadruple crown, if only by claiming that slippery executive-producer credit. 2002’s Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, which Greenwald produced, focused on injustices in the Florida recount; his own Uncovered: The War on Iraq, released earlier this year, sent the Dubya Patrol to the Middle East. Now, in collaboration with the ACLU, Greenwald has produced Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties, an hourlong takedown of the Patriot Act. There’s no better tool in the anti-Bush utility belt than this particular bit of legislation, and for good reason: As Michael Moore showed in Fahrenheit 9/11, the bill was passed before most—or maybe any—members of Congress had read it. Unconstitutional takes that notion and runs with it, arguing that the Bush administration used post-9/11 panic and fear to ram through a set of laws that effectively turned the United States into a police state. Ironic then, that the film doesn’t do a much better job than the Bushies themselves of educating the public about what’s actually in the act. As the movie’s many talking heads acknowledge, the White House’s worst civil-liberties abuses—the indefinite detentions of enemy combatants and immigrants—have nothing to do with the Patriot Act whatsoever. And when lamenting the fact that, say, your library records can now be searched without a warrant, writer-director Nonny de la Peña doesn’t bother to explain what the law was before or even where this provision is in the act. (That would be Section 215.) Including this material wouldn’t have made the movie any more boring—really, how could you make a film that features countless slow zooms on spiral-bound documents any more boring?—and it would have at least armed viewers with some semblance of useful information. As it is, Unconstitutional just descends into random, unearned, and occasionally misleading anti-Bush-administration rants, such as how the manhandling of protesters at the president’s inauguration “perfectly illustrate[s] the abuses that happen under Ashcroft’s directive.” (The only problem with that observation is that Ashcroft wasn’t even confirmed until two weeks later.) Rather than rely on Greenwald’s too-partisan take on what’s wrong with the Patriot Act, why not just spend that hour online reading the thing for yourself? I promise: You won’t get arrested.

—Josh Levin