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Enemy of the State
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent paranoia action thriller

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
13 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lawyer Robert Dean unwittingly (and unwillingly) comes into possession of a computer disc showing the secret service murdering a senator. The secret service promptly set to destroying him with a combination of constant surveillance while deleting him from computers everywhere. In desperation, Dean turns for assistance to off-the-grid ex-CIA man Edward Lyle (Gene Hackman).

This scarily believable thriller features both Smith and Hackman on good form, in a paranoia-based story which illustrates both how much we rely on computers and also how much surveillance is already in place. It works both as an action potboiler and also as a thought-provoking piece.

It is also noteworthy for the number of well-known faces in small supporting roles, some of them uncredited.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Will Smith is harried, harassed and hunted by Jon Voight's National Security Agency teams

Author: msroz from United States
17 September 2012

Surveillance as depicted in movies is an interesting topic. The movie The Anderson Tapes (1971) already depicted wall-to-wall surveillance by numerous government agencies as a robbery plot unfolded. In Enemy of the State, the National Security Agency (NSA), which exists, has hugely enhanced surveillance capabilities with satellites and on-ground teams, as in The Conversation (1974). Gene Hackman, wearing glasses, appears in both of the latter two movies.

Jon Voight is a rogue NSA bureaucrat who directs operations. He and some of his team kill a Congressman (Jason Robards) who is standing in the way of a bill in Congress that extends their surveillance powers. (By now, such powers are common, so that art has preceded reality or quickly intuited it as is often the case.) Ironically, the murder is filmed by a bird watcher. When Voight hears of this, he sets his teams to work recovering the film, murdering more people, and covering up. Will Smith comes into possession of a disk with the film, and he becomes the harried and threatened protagonist, later assisted by an irascible ex-NSA agent (Gene Hackman). The movie plays out as a fairly conventional decent thriller.

I found interesting the depiction of the hands who do Voight's dirty work of the actual surveillance and murder. He has two teams with these separate functions. They are young, their clothing doesn't identify them, and they are glued to their electronic devices just as if they were any youths you might see playing video games intensely, only their toys are far more sophisticated. The kill-team has more young men who do their searching, running, and gun-pointing work without hesitation. They do not kill indiscriminately at all, but they will if ordered to. The State cannot operate without the loyalty and unswerving obedience of these young men. I have the feeling that they believe in what they do (that they are the good guys and their superiors identify the bad guys for them), but also their superiors know how to exploit their psychology. These young men like the taste of the chase, the hunt, the power, the action, the voyeurism, and the winning, plus they are submissive to boot. It was annoying for me to see these young squirts operating like little Nazis. Is this real? I mean, does this portrayal capture some elements of reality among those who "serve"? I think it does. Liberty is in huge danger from a government that recruits and trains such people, and from the millions who know nothing of it or approve of it.

In the end, here's another irony. These submissive men who always take orders have to make a decision on their own when Voight is in danger, and they make a hasty, emotional and wrong decision, which is their downfall and his too. Under pressure to think straight, they fail to do so. Their capacities are purely mechanical. They are linked as one to their computer screens and electronic signals. Their minds have atrophied in other ways. In fact, the movie never shows these young men as characters or persons. They are not developed as such in the screenplay. This is fitting.

Voight is given several speeches in which he justifies the NSA's spying. The movie is not unbalanced. Nevertheless, since he commits a crime and since Will Smith is the hero, the movie comes down on the side of controlling the surveillance and spying capacities of government. Will Smith's wife delivers opinions that take that point of view, so there is a kind of debate in the script. However, it's a thriller. The movie does stop and focus on the human element a bit when Will Smith's former girl friend (Lisa Bonet) is murdered, but it is not particularly strong in bringing out the negatives of surveillance. The bird watcher is killed, for example, and the movie quickly moves on. It has to, in some sense, because he is not a major character.

Voight is a rogue within the NSA. We are not given all that much direct intimation that the government is vastly overreaching, and that its power against individuals is crossing a line into police state. Yet the movie does leave that general impression. I am sure that other Hollywood thrillers have explored in more depth the excesses of the State itself. If not, they will. And they will be getting into scenarios in which the President becomes a dictator. I've seen a good many foreign movies that go back 20-30 years, like those by Costa-Gavras, that are simultaneously excellent thrillers while exploring government oppressions of various kinds and focusing more intensely on the effects this has on individual persons. These are not done in the more or less standardized Hollywood style that tends to veer off into superficial entertainment.

None of this stops or has stopped the State's progression, but it doesn't hurt to raise public awareness of the growing police state via popular entertainment like this.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Will Smith

Author: dviol13088 from United States
14 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now this is the story all about how Will's life got flipped, turned upside down. It takes 132 minutes so just sit right there and I'll tell you about how he became the pawn of some spy warfare. In District of Columbia, born and raised, in the courthouse is where he spent most of his days. Pleadin' out, lawin', objectin' all cool and chasing some mob boss outside of school. When a couple of agents were up to no good, started killin' congressmen in the neighborhood. He got one little tape and the NSA got scared, and said "You've murdered your girlfriend in cold blood so there!" Will, he whistled for a contact and when he came near, the license said 'Brill', who had a security fear. If anything he could say this cat was rare, but then they got captured which lead to despair. They pulled up to the mob house around seven or eight, and Will yelled to the NSA "Yo I'm your negotiator!" There was some killing he was luckily spared to reclaim his life with a breath of fresh air.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A First Rate Thriller

Author: gigan-92 from United States
25 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film delivers!! There are several espionage films out there about what the government is really up to these days, but this is one of the few that really catches my attention. The story is well paced and won't let you down that's for sure. Will Smith stars and his acting is extraordinary here. Gene Hackman also portrays his character solidly if I say so myself, and Jon Voight does well too. All the other characters are fantastic and won't bore you, giving lots of emotion to the film. The action is great and will keep you on the edge of your seat till it's all over. I love the chase sequence that ends with a fire truck and a crushed bike. The end gun battle was nice and it all remains realistic at the same time without being over the top. Yes!!! The score is fantastic and gives a somber feel to the film. Loved it! This film truly is a first rate thriller!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

..exciting film..

Author: fimimix from United States
4 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I add my vote to most comments posted here as this being an excellent film. It is hard to imagine that the silly kid Will Smith ("Robert Dean") played on TV to become the capable actor he has become on film. "Enemy of the State" certainly documents that.

I also agree that the film was made way before its time, and certainly cannot be "dated". It also documents how innocent people become embroiled in very complicated and dangerous situations, with having done nothing to cause it. "Big Brother" is all too relevant in this film, and one can imagine it's much worse now since "the Patriot Act" is in full-swing.

As all users mention, many actors-actresses cast at that time have become major stars. However, it IS the old-school guys who make the film believable......Gene Hackman (" Brill") and Jon Voight ("Reynolds") do stellar acting-jobs, with the help of countless smaller roles.

This is one "chase" and shoot-'em-up" film which did not bore me and I could truly relate to. I've watched it three times this week, so you can see that I enjoyed Tony Scott's directing and THE STORY David Marconi put on the screen. Regina King ("Rachel Banks") definitely added to the suspense of "Enemy of the State" - a good family film.

SO, Guys - be careful what you do in today's world - don't take it for granted that everything is rosy and safe. Bravo !

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brilliantly entertaining thriller

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
27 November 2007

From the outset, Enemy of the State looks like it may be another formulaic thriller, and while that is true to a certain extent; I really wouldn't hesitate to name this film as one of the best of it's type simply because the plot flows excellently, and the film is a lot of fun to watch; those qualities always being among the most important for a film like this. The film handles the central theme of privacy and the Government interfering in people's private lives. Of course, there's also a conspiracy that the plot is driven from. The plot begins with the murder of Congressman Phillip Hammerson, which is promptly covered up and made to look like a suicide by a politician named Thomas Reynolds. This has reverberations for a lawyer named Robert Dean, as unfortunately for him; a birdwatcher he knows caught the whole ugly incident on tape, and as (bad) luck would have it, Robert Dean happened to be in the same shop as his old friend during a police chase. It's not long before the man and the agency behind the murder start to pull the lawyer's life apart...

The film stars Will Smith, who is great in the lead role and provides the film with its main asset. He doesn't strike me as the lawyer type, but Will Smith has a great charisma and pretty much lend himself to any role he's given; here, he ensures that the film is always interesting. Enemy of the State is not your average action flick either; the film does feature stunts and a few explosions, but these are never the main focus of the film. Much of the excitement is sprung from the interaction between the central characters and the storyline, which results in a more engaging film. There are a few chase sequences which are very well executed, however and these add to the film's overall quality. Enemy of the State is directed by Tony Scott; a director with a penchant for making often decent, but never really brilliant thrillers; but this one is at the top of his oeuvre. The film co-stars Gene Hackman, who is good, although I've never been a fan of his; plus a number of other familiar faces, such as Jon Voight, Jason Lee, Seth Green, Gabriel Byrne and Jack Black, who steals the show as usual. Overall, this is an excellent and entertaining little film that comes highly recommended.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: anonymous
21 October 1998

After what feels like a slow start (just laying the groundwork) the film takes off and races the last hour through paranoid ultra-high tech chase scenes that really do deliver. The case does a bang-up job and the level of government eavesdropping reaches epic proportions. Computer geeks may spot a truck load of flaws, but otherwise it's a lot of fun.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: anonymous from LA
20 October 1998

This was a great thriller / action piece and a chance to bring into the light a classic American film, The Conversation. Gene Hackman basically reprises his role as Harry Call, 15 years later than the events in that film. Will Smith is great as a straight man for a change with hardly any of his typical one damn, lines. The supporting cast, however, is what makes the film shine, that and a truly smart script playing on our paranoias and fears of being watched. This is a film where everyone in it, is somebody. Jaime Kennedy from the Scream movies, Seth Green from Can't Hardly wait, Gabe Byrne, everybody is in this film. I give kudos to Bruckheimer and Tony Scott for going back to their roots and making a tight action film, smartly written and nicely acted.

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12 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

paranoia deluxe...

Author: gazzo-2 from United States
20 November 1999

really good companion piece to 'X-files' and 'The Conversation', in fact Gene Hackman plays a semi-sequel of parts to his part in that. Hackman is one of the Immortals, bringing class and charisma to anything he does. Smith is a good every-man, some of his line-readings seemed forced, but overall I am happy with his job here. The plot reminded me strongly of 'Sneakers', save for the fact that the 'Sneakers' were the baddies this time out. I enjoy the Bruckheimer touch and hope that they continue their fine work in their next film, a Pearl Harbor knock-off.

the Gazzo-2 rating? *** outta ****, suspenseful, semi-plausible, you can't go wrong with Jon Voight and Gabriel Byrne(in a cameo, mind...) in a film together with Gene and Busey's kid....

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A fantastic movie, but has a couple of errors.

Author: Nadine Salakov from United Kingdom
11 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First things first, the film score composed by Harry Gregson-Williams is catchy and suits the motion picture.

If you're paranoid do not watch this movie, if you love an entertaining techno-thriller, then this should be watched more than once.

The most recent movie that is similar to this is "Snowden" and it is nothing new, we've seen that type of thing portrayed in this 90s flick "Enemy Of The State", and out of the two films "Enemy Of The State" is so much better in every way, "Snowden" is a drama, whereas "Enemy Of The State" is an action thriller that is fast-paced and lively.

"Enemy Of The State" has brilliant performances, great dialogue (not all the time though), professional directing and decent scenery. There is a couple of errors, and the first error is when "Robert Dean" (Will Smith) snaps at a couple of people when things are not going well for him, the people that i'm talking about are people who did nothing wrong to him at all, it's understandable that he's under pressure and him snapping at the people who are causing him grief is fine, he's not perfect and we have to see him stressed at some point, but the writers/editors should have excluded those two scenes where he is snapping at people who were innocent - the scenes are when his assistant tells him twice that there's people there to see him and he replies very rudely with "I heard you the first time, thank you", the second scene is when he leaves his briefcase on the floor by his feet while trying to check into a hotel, one of those CIA guys walks past and very discreetly picks up "Robert Dean's" briefcase and walks out of the hotel with it, "Robert Dean" then says to the hotel receptionist that his briefcase was right there and that it just disappeared, she asks him "Are you sure you brought it in?" and he replies very angrily and shouts at her saying the words "YES I'M SURE I BROUGHT IT IN!", (the question she asked is a little silly, but he told her his briefcase is missing, so what is she supposed to do? ignore him? plus it is "Robert Dean's" own fault that his briefcase got stolen, you never leave your briefcase by your feet while being preoccupied with something else) and if you watch that scene carefully - even the lady beside him who is checking herself in looks round shockingly at him because that is just a natural response to outrageous unnecessary over the top behaviour. The writers need to keep in mind that if they want viewers to like a character, make sure that he is likable from start to finish.

Another error in this movie is to do with some character's faults and some of the faults of the script/writing, and that's when "Robert Dean" is arguing with his wife "Carla Dean" (Regina King), she speaks truth about him going behind her back and having business-type meetings with "Rachel F. Banks" (Lisa Bonet) - (a woman who "Robert Dean" had an affair with in the past) and while on the subject of "Rachel F. Banks" she is unlikable, her death scene is not sad because the movie fails to make her someone we should even care about (we see that she is a selfish woman who only goes after married men, clearly women like this don't care about the affects that an affair will have on people's families) the writers do not give viewers a reason to like her, she's cold and standoffish and when she's not that she is paranoid and talks down to the only person that is giving her the time of day. They did not continue the affair, their meetings were business only, but considering their history it is understandable why "Carla" lost it and kicked "Robert" out, you don't have to be married to know that it's a bad idea to have business meetings with the person you used to have an affair with, you'd think a lawyer would know that.

"Enemy Of The State" also brings humour in the right places mainly between "Robert Dean" and "Carla Dean", small amounts of humour always works well in thriller movies.

The mob aspect isn't that bad, if they'd have had more screen time it would have ruined the movie, mob depictions are extremely boring, thankfully that aspect took a back seat as a supporting role/circumstance.

This cine is set around Christmastime which is a nice touch, there's just something about thrillers set around the holidays that makes them much more fun.

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