Enemy of the State (1998) Poster

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8/10
Crackerjack Thriller with a message...
neilmac6 December 2003
Why? Well for starters there is the best chase sequence since The French Connection. Then there is Will Smith as an actor - not just a star, though later in the movie he is admittedly overshadowed by veteran Gene Hackman.

There are two layers to this movie: On the surface is a pacy thriller with edge-of-the-seat chases but underneath lies a telling commentary on government surveillance. It is one of those truth-in-fiction stories which makes its point about government intrusion into privacy dramatically and effectively.

There are references to the classic, The Conversation: The surveilled couple talking in the park, and the Hackman character's premises are an obvious recreation of his workshop in the earlier movie. If you haven't yet seen The Conversation - see it before you see this one - you will understand the Hackman character a lot better (besides, it is a superb movie in its own right).

Oh, and Jon Voight is terrific as the bad guy...
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8/10
You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide
CrassActionHero22 March 2007
Enemy of the State (1998)

Review: This is a different direction for many. Will Smith for one and some noticeable comedic actors are here, but this is no comedy.

Enemy of the State is quite a movie. What is the main point of this is the plot. It works in many ways. In a situation like this, anyone with connections and power can have access to such technology to track down anyone who knows far too much. It's quite real. Scary in a real sort of way.

Another truly strong point here is the acting. Will Smith and Gene Hackman deliver excellent performances. Smith showed great emotion and Hackman had conviction. Not just these two were great, we have Jon Voight as well. But what really got me is the acting from other characters as Seth Green, Barry Pepper, Jake Busey, and even Jack Black. These people are great especially Black who is really acting here! Black should have realised that comedy is not his thing if suspense and drama are as he is great here.

Overall, we get great acting, a fine plot, and fast, character development and fast and intense action as well. Sound like a winner to me. Enemy of the State is fresh and original and clever. One of Smith's finest movies.

The Last Word: Don't miss. Gripping and Suspenseful.
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9/10
Whew!
Peter Swanson26 January 2006
I don't know how I missed this in theaters, but I watched it for the first time tonight. I almost gave it a 10, because this is as good as the suspense/action drama gets. Somebody on the DVD special features called it "...a combination of Crimson Tide, The French Connection, and 3 Days of the Condor." From my list of favorites I'd also say it has aspects of Marathon Man, The Fugitive, and The Firm. Will Smith, whose work does not thrill me 100% of the time, is terrific, and Gene Hackman could not have been better. They also receive support from some great character actors, many of them UNCREDITED (a fact which blew me away).

My enjoyment was enhanced by being familiar with Hackman's The Conversation, in which he plays Harry Caul, one of the world's greatest audio surveillance men. His hideout/office in Enemy is reminiscent of Caul's digs, and the photograph which the bad guys have on file for him is of his character from The Conversation. I sort of wish they'd named the new character Caul, giving long-term continuity to the story.

I'm running off at the fingers here, so I won't elaborate on the location, direction, etcetera, but will end with SEE THIS FILM!
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8/10
One of my favorite action-films ever.
Panterken16 October 2007
Enemy Of The State is one of the few movies I went out of my way to see in the theater ( I'm a video-rental guy) and it's indeed a grand action-movie. The big surplus is of course the great messages behind the film. It entails a fear that we all have in some degree, the loss of our privacy. Of course all the Hollywood-elements are present: the returning catchphrases and jokes, the over-dramatic scenes, etc. but Scott never goes too far. The pacing is great and the film's over before you know it even though it has a relatively long run-time( for an action-movie) of 120 min. Will Smith is solid but Gene Hackman is the one who steals the show. It's the first movie I saw that starred him (I was only 10 when the movie came out and I've been a big fan ever since.

Tony Scott's new movie, Deja Vu, really is a lot like EOTS in many ways but I still deem EOTS to be superior. Deja Vu is great of course but I guess I add some sentimental value to EOTS. It's really a must-see for action/thriller fans and I do not say this lightly.

EOTS fully deserves it's 8
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8/10
I like this one, also beeing somewhat realistic (not in every detail of course).
rolfhub24 August 2002
Well, I like this one. I like the cast, the visuals are well done, but what is more important is the plot that I like really much. It's not the most sophisticated plot of all times, but I think it's quite good, and to some degree, realistic. Of course it's not possible to move sattelites that quickly, or zoom in on a videotape that much and still have crystal-clear visual, but quite some technology seen is realistic today, or in the near future. This is an hollywood flick, all right, so they have quite much action and everything looks very easy, steering a sattelite seems to be no harder than playing a video game, what makes it all seem a bit unrealistic/sci-fi-like, but today's technical posibilities are quite large, and continue to grow, so informing oneself about the issue (I mean the real world issue) is not a bad idea.

To give you some points to think:

  • It's routine for the credid card companies to document every transaction made with the cards, go figure who gets the docs if police is investigating.


  • Every call / fax done is documented for billing, go figure, who...


  • At least for your ISP it's possible to read every unencrypted email you send or receive, go figure ...


  • Today there are MANY cameras in public areas in Great Britain, with numbers still growing.


  • Face recognition software is already being used in combination with some surveillance cameras.


  • Dictation software that can interpret your spoken word and convert it into written text is being sold to you today, maybe some organisations have much better versions at their hands ...


The list could go on, but what I want to say is that one should think about the posibilities and listen to what the politicians say, and what they want to allow the federal organisations.

You want to be able to still _enjoy_ the movie in some years time, not thinking of it as being somewhat normal just as everyday life, all right?
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9/10
Vastly underrated
Dan Grant21 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Conspiracy theorists who enjoy films like JFK and Conspiracy Theory will have a lot to enjoy with Enemy of the State. For a film that came out almost 10 years ago, it seems just slightly ahead its time. I don't remember everything about 1998, but I do know that things like DVD was in it's nascent stages and although the internet has been part of our vernacular for almost 20 years now, the technology prevalent back in 98 as opposed to now is light years apart. And in the post 911 days, having the idea of our privacy abolished is pretty much upon us. Maybe not to the extent perpetuated in this film, but we are pretty much under Big Brother's watchful eye all the time. When you walk into a bank, a restaurant, a convenience store or any public place, you are photographed and recorded and your image can be recalled with a simple enough click of a button. Even today when you call places like phone company's or pizza parlours you hear a recorded message that says this call may be recorded for quality purposes. We are being watched and kept tabs on everywhere we go and in everything we do. In this vein, Enemy of the State is a marvel. It is a film way ahead of it's time. No one could foresee the tragedy of 911, but now that it is part of our history books, films like The Siege and this one are that much more clairvoyant.

Will Smith plays a Washington attorney whose life is turned inside out when he is given a disc that has a political murder on it. He doesn't know that it does and when an unsanctioned government spook squad comes after him, he is confused and out of his element. Gene Hackman plays Brill, who might as well be an older version of Harry Cauld, his character from Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 film The Conversation. He is a communications expert that has basically gone mercenary and no longer does the dirty work for the CIA and other seedy government factions. Smith needs his help attempting to understand what it all means and how he got entangled in this imbroglio. While Smith is the star of the film, it is clearly Hackman that steals the show with his vernacular and expertise on the subject.

The film is also blessed with so many bit players that are now either famous or semi famous that it's like watching a Robert Altman film such as The Player. There are that many famous faces in here. Barry Pepper, Jake Busey, Jack Black, Jaime Kennedy, Jason Lee, Gabriele Byrne, Tom Sizemore and Jason Robards all show up in the film in supporting roles. Add to that the incomparable Jon Voight and you have one hell of a cast.

Enemy of the State moves at a break neck pace. It is directed with a kinetic urgency and Tony Scott shows us why he is one of the best in the business with his style. I can't imagine many haven't seen this, but for those that haven't, it is definitely one of Jerry Bruckheimer's best. And that is saying something.

9/10
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Good thriller - Hackman makes it
bob the moo21 December 2001
Sucessful lawyer Robert Dean is passed information by an old friend without noticing. Seconds later that friend is killed and Dean is targeted by a group within the Government who wish to cover up a conspiracy involving the murder of a congressman. With the Government's full weight of surveillance equipment brought to bear Dean turns to ex-NSA agent Brill to help protect him, find the information and get it out into the open.

This is much better than the ususal summer crash, bang, wallop stuff we usually get fed. It's greatly helped by the sense of paranonia that runs through the whole story from the Government's power and corruption at some levels. The film starts well, with 'everyman' Dean being drawn into a game of cat and mouse, framed for a crime he didn't commit and forced to go on the run from Government agents. Will Smith carries the film only so far but it realy gets interesting when Hackman turns up as Brill. He casts light on the ability of the government and is almost able to play them at their own game. Brill makes an appearance when the film starts to become too much of a staight chase movie.

To me the use of Hackman as Brill is the best bit of casting ever and makes this film stand out as being clever. In the 70's Hackman played a surveillance expert in Copolla's The Conversation. The film ends with Hackman being monitored himself, with him ripping his house apart looking for the bugs. What makes his casting as Brill so good is that Brill is where Hackman's "The Conversation" character would be 20 years on - it feels like it's the same character again. The director also deserves a lot of praise - he manages to keep the pace up throughout the film, whether it be scenes of chasing action or technological pursuit. The script helps as well - the conspiracy and the paranoia is strong throughout.

Smith is good in the lead, but he isn't quite as good an "everyman" as classic actors as Cary Grant or James Stewart were. Smith also struggles to carry the whole movie and the chases do get a bit samey after a while. Fortunately Hackman is brilliant as Brill, he is a classy actor and brings a lot of weight to the film just as Smith begins to feel the strain. Jon Voight is also good as the villian of the piece. The supporting cast is deep! There were so many famous faces in small roles that I really felt this was an allstar cast, despite the fact that it's a Smith vehicle. Gabriel Byrne makes a fleeting appearance, Ian Hart is there, Jake Busey (son of Gary) shows up, Jason Lee (actor in many Kevin Smith films) witnesses the murder, a gorgeous Lisa Bonet has a small part, James Le Gros, Regina King etc etc. The cast is well packed with famous faces - they don't all get the chance to put on a show but it adds quality at all levels.

Overall this is a fancy chase movie, but good direction, a strong and deep cast and a fantastic Hackman all make this film much better than it could have been. The last scene of the film is a little too upbeat but other than that it's pretty good stuff.
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Interesting plot, will make you wonder who's watching you!
TxMike7 September 1999
Jon Voight, Will Smith, and Gene Hackman are the three stars who make this movie interesting. Voight is a rogue NSA operative and Smith quite accidentally gets on his trail without even realizing it. Hackman provides the key to exposing the crooks and facilitating a reasonable ending. Watching this movie makes you wonder how much of the surveillance depicted can really be done today by our governments. Although the movie has its share of violence, and an ending out of Reservoir Dogs, it also is sprinkled with some good humor. If you like action and espionage, then you'll like this movie. The DVD picture and soundtrack are both excellent. I give the movie overall 8 of 10.
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10/10
The smartest thriller ever made
shortround839130 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In 1998, I was only about seven years old and therefore I couldn't see it in the theaters because of the rating, but my guess is, the entire world got a wake-up call to the horrifying truth about their government. And the thing is, everything that happened in "Enemy of the State" is very, very possible of happening. But that's just me thinking, 'cause it was over 11 years ago and and I couldn't remember if I tried. Did this movie do the same thing to the government as "Jaws" did to the beaches? Perhaps.

The movie is about a highly accomplished lawyer named Robert Clayton Dean played by Will Smith in the performance of his career and makes an extremely believable character and expresses his emotions of anger and paranoia just perfectly. Dean accidentally gets a videotape of a covered-up political murder and in most of the movie, he doesn't realize it. But he's aware that the people (NSA agents) chasing him are watching him for sinister purposes. Robert Dean is also one of the smartest characters in the history of films, as he is able to outsmart a corrupt agency who have practically everything on him, such as satellites, tracers and cameras.

Gene Hackman also stands out as the gruff, foul-mouthed former conspirer and government agent named Brill, who has had experience in surveillance technology and assists Dean in getting away from these dirty agents. However, Hackman doesn't show up until after the first hour, but that demonstrates his character who has spent most of his life hiding and it shows the secretiveness of Brill. Although the role is somewhat smaller, Hackman makes the best of it.

And as for the NSA agents played by Jon Voight, Barry Pepper, Seth Green and Jack Black.....all of these guys are DIRTY, and I mean that in the truest meaning possible. These guys are ruining an innocent man's life, screwing up his credit cards, and even wrecking his marriage just so they can get away with what they did. Believe me, you are gonna find yourself HATING these guys, and I mean it. And as movie villains go....you're supposed to hate them, sometimes in other movies, you might be amused or not feel anything at all, but "Enemy of the State" does what it's supposed to do. Also, they're very realistic 'cause they aren't stupid and they know what they're doing with all the technology they have.

Most of the film's thrills comes from the suspense rather than the action, as much of Tony Scott's films are like. The chase scenes such as the beginning when the NSA guys are going after Zavitz and when they're chasing Dean in the hotel and on the streets are terrificly shot and edited. Also, later on the action comes in after Dean and Brill run from the agents is also a highlight, and it's pretty hilarious after Dean asks Brill why he blew up the building and he reacts by saying "Because you made a phone call!" which demonstrates how careful he is. And of course the ending stand-ff between the agents and the Italian mob is absolutely bad@$$ in the true sense of the word.

I absolutely love "Enemy of the State" and support its position as one of the best thrillers of all time, because its very smart and doesn't treat the audience like they're a bunch of idiots. Buy it, rent it or borrow it from a friend, and watch the movie that happens to be the smartest thriller ever made....
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In God we trust all others we monitor.
Imagine7 December 1998
The murder of a congressman is caught on tape and Robert Dean (Will Smith) has it. He has to save his family career and life all in 2 hours! Although the plot twists aren't always surprising they are convincing. Gene Hackman plays the role of the paranoid informant wonderfully but Will Smith can't help being funny no matter how hard he tries. Tony Scott shows the action from surveillance camera and telephoto angles giving an edgy feeling throughout the picture. Most of the chases are on foot keeping car chases are kept to a minimum. The chases technically well done but seem to be missing an over the edge quality like most of the movie.The story moves along at a good speed making it a good action movie with a solid plot.
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