Enemy of the State (1998)

reviewed by
David Sunga


ENEMY OF THE STATE (1998)
Rating: 3.0 stars (out of 4.0)
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Key to rating system:
2.0 stars - Debatable
2.5 stars - Some people may like it
3.0 stars - I liked it
3.5 stars - I am biased in favor of the movie
4.0 stars - I felt the movie's impact personally or it stood out
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A Movie Review by David Sunga 
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: David Marconi

Starring: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet

Ingredients: National Security Agency, innocent guy, video tape that everyone wants

Synopsis: In this thriller, Robert Dean (Will Smith) is an upscale lawyer and family man who possesses a video tape containing incriminating film footage of a mobster. The mobster threatens Dean with trouble if Dean doesn't hand over the tape. When a desperate acquaintance bumps into Dean, Dean unknowingly falls into accidental possession of a second, unrelated tape wanted by an even more shadowy figure: a sinister politician in charge of the NSA, a secretive American spy agency. In no time, Dean finds himself on the run, chased by corrupt G-men, with his posh former life turned completely upside down. Can Dean and his techno ally Brill (Gene Hackman) finally figure out what's going on?

Opinion: Is there really an American intelligence organization called the National Security Agency in charge of satellite imagery and electronic surveillance? Actually yes. With offices worldwide, and an estimated 3 billion dollar budget, the NSA is one of the largest employers in the state of Maryland and may be the world's primary employer of mathematicians (read "computer codemakers and codebreakers"). The NSA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) together control most of the satellite and telecommunications defense reconnaissance taking place anywhere in the world.

ENEMY OF THE STATE asks an intriguing question: "What if the powerful NSA targeted an ordinary civilian instead of terrorists?" Interesting proposition, and it's what makes the movie so fun. Dean's life is totally invaded by bugs, cameras, networked videocam, and satellite intelligence. His credit records and bank records are tampered with. His phones and those of his friends, family, and acquaintances are tapped. Insidiously, the NSA even plants tracking devices on Dean's clothing and shoes. ENEMY OF THE STATE excels at portraying this devilishly clever surveillance. And thanks to TOP GUN director Tony Scott there is plenty of fast paced action as well: running around, car chases, helicopters, explosions, et cetera. The only really predictable part is the fate of Dean's girlfriend Rachel (Lisa Bonet). ENEMY OF THE STATE is a decent thriller with an interesting proposition and a catchy ending.

Reviewed by David Sunga
November 21, 1998

Copyright 1998 by David Sunga This review and others like it can be found at THE CRITIC ZOO: http://www.criticzoo.com email: zookeeper@criticzoo.com


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