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Enemy of the State
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Enemy of the State More at IMDbPro »

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44 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Good thriller - Hackman makes it

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 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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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide

8/10
Author: CrassActionHero from United States
22 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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35 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Interesting plot, will make you wonder who's watching you!

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
7 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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35 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Gripping - Got My Attention

8/10
Author: genevadavid from Switzerland
8 December 2002

I stumbled onto this thriller while channel surfing in an Istanbul hotel room. I missed the first 20 minutes, but it didn't take long to be drawn into the story. In fact, the action is so fast and gripping that I didn't dare get up to take a pee for fear of missing something. Now that's gripping!

Earlier today I saw a report on cameras no larger than the size of a pill that can make a movie of your digestive tract, from mouth to anus. Now if such miniature devices are already a reality, then some of the tracking technology used in this film must be close to reality - maybe too close for comfort.

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29 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

In God we trust all others we monitor.

Author: Imagine from Elsewhere
7 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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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

One of my favorite action-films ever.

8/10
Author: Panterken from Belgium
16 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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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Vastly underrated

9/10
Author: Dan Grant (dan.grant@bell.ca) from Toronto, Ontario
21 April 2007

*** This review may contain 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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22 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

One of the most entertaining thrillers of the late 1990's.

8/10
Author: Lucien Lessard from Canada
5 February 2007

An successful attorney from Washington D.C. by the name Robert Dean Clayton (Will Smith). Which Robert without his knowledge is given a video by his college friend (Jason Lee). Which his friend is trying to hide from mysterious strangers, who been after him until he dies unexpectedly by a fire truck. In that video has a murder of an top political elderly man (An uncredited:Jason Robards Jr.) and the man, who responsible for the murder is a corrupted national security agency man (Jon Voight). Now Dean's normal life is been after by a lethal team of skilled NSA surveillance team. They are ruthless and they will do everything to complete their mission until a mystery man (Two Time Oscar-Winner:Gene Hackman) helps Dean to be away from NSA and destroy, whoever they are responsible for destroying his life.

Directed by Tony Scott (Beverly Hills Cop 2, The Hunger, True Romance) made an extremely entertaining thriller with plenty of action and humour. This was one of the biggest hits of 1998. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Beverly Hills Cop, Con Air, The Rock). This has an good cast, includes:Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Stuart Wilson, Jack Black. Loren Dean, Barry Pepper, Jamie Kennedy, Jake Busey, Scott Cann, James LeGros and Gabriel Byrne.

The original cut on the DVD has an sharp non-anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an strong-Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This enjoyable film is extremely entertaining and never slows down. Hackman's mysterious character is loosely based on a film by Oscar-Winner:Francis Ford Coppola movie titled "The Conversation". Which some critics and fans of Coppola's picture will call this an uncredited sequel. Seth Green, Philip Baker Hall and Tim Sizemore appears uncredited. Panavision. (****/*****).

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The smartest thriller ever made

10/10
Author: shortround8391 from United States
30 March 2009

*** This review may contain 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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15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Big Brother......

10/10
Author: goober448 from United States
5 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If this film doesn't provoke you into thinking about "big brother" nothing will... Gripping, fast paced, realistic (especially in the world we know today), superb acting.... This film is all about being under government surveillance and it's too relevant to ignore. Will Smith and Gene Hackman are the stars, but the supporting cast list is top notch- Gabriel Byrne, Ian Hart, Barry Pepper, Jake Busey, Jack Black, Jaime Kennedy, Jason Lee, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore and Jason Robards. Who's watching you???? If you can watch a film of this nature, in this day and age, and not ask yourself that question, then you are one of the most unique individuals to walk our earth. Conspiracy theorists, this is a must see for you.

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