_Enemy_of_the_State_ (R) *** 1/2
Anyone who thinks that the key to Will Smith's big-screen success lies solely on his attitude and charisma will be proven wrong once and for all by his work in Tony Scott's smart, stylish thriller. Aside from a handful of wry wisecracks delivered in the early going, Smith's Robert Clayton Dean is a straight arrow, a labor attorney who is hunted down by some shady government types after coming into possession of a videotape of a congressman's (Jason Robards) murder. Dean has trouble evading his pursuers--and their high-tech surveillance equipment--until an equally shady former NSA agent (Gene Hackman) arrives on the scene to offer some reluctant help.
As amusing as Hackman and his riff on his character in _The_Conversation_ is, it is with his first appearance (which doesn't come until about an hour in, if not more) that _Enemy_of_the_State_'s tightly coiled tension begins to unravel somewhat; there is much more suspense when Dean, a common man with no combat skills or the like, is called on to evade government professionals solely on his wits. But on the whole, David Marconi's script is solid, intelligently bringing up realistic issues regarding privacy while serving the slam-bang thrills required of any Jerry Bruckheimer production. Pulling the entire enterprise together is Scott, who uses his large bag of dazzling visual tricks in good service to the plot; and Smith. He paints a vivid portrait of paranoia and fear, and his natural presence and rapport with the audience is invaluable in creating a likable character.
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