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

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Exciting, frightening film about the 900-pound gorilla that's already in the kitchen

Author: Brian Wright from United States
6 April 2007

When I first saw this movie—geez, hard to imagine this film being made nearly 10 years ago!—I was more moved by the technical wizardry than tuned into this jumbo-sized chronicle of the national security state gone awry.

That, and I remember feeling so friggin' irritated with Carla (Regina King) for bitching about Robert (Will Smith) doing business with Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet):

The Claytons' home has been broken into, the NSA has framed him, his high-powered legal firm has fired him, and his reputation has been trashed in the D.C. papers. So this stand-by-your-man wife throws him out of the house without giving him a chance to explain.

Keep in mind Carla is an ACLU attorney and has just the day before given Robert a lecture about how our rights are being trampled by the state. Their lives are unraveling from some hostile agent, and she's getting emotional about some old flame he still has to talk with occasionally? Women!

Turns out Carla's bitching is the least of his troubles:

A high-level National Security Agency (NSA) schmuck (Jon Voight) has a Congressman (Jason Robards) killed for refusing to support a new Patriot-Act-like surveillance law. The murder takes place in a park where a wildlife camera captures the entire scene on tape. The camera attendant (Jason Lee) soon figures out what he has, and so does the NSA team.

The chase is on.

Camera guy makes a disk then by pure chance the disk, enclosed in a portable video game, winds up in Robert Dean's Christmas shopping bag. Unbeknownst to Dean, his seven-year-old son raids the package and takes the game and disk with him to a friend's house on a sleepover.

The chief complication in the plot underlies Dean's relationship with Rachel. In their university days they were lovers; yet Dean uses her now and then as a go-between to obtain first-class PI work from a shadowy investigator named Brill (Gene Hackman).

Eventually, Dean and Brill have to hook up to confront the statist goombas who are ruining everyone's lives to retrieve the damned tape. Brill is a former NSA wonk forced out 20 years ago by upper-level spook-management screwups. Off the grid and underground, he's an aging libertarian high-tech loner with a grudge.


For my complete review of this movie and for other movie and book reviews, please visit my site

Brian Wright Copyright 2007

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A Big Miss

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
2 July 2000

Okay, another ordinary guy thrust into extraordinary circumstances and being pursued by overwhelming force: template number 1 in the poor writer's cheat book. This go around, we have dire warnings about and examples of NSA invasions of privacy.

Even if it had a resonating story, this movie is dead. When will they learn not to cast poor actors (Smith, Bonet) near good ones (Voight, Hackman). It just reminds us. Smith never convinces.

Worse, the reason this was made was to leverage paranoia about a very real agency, who does do profligate, but passive monitoring. The message would have real impact if they hadn't larded it up with so many technical fantasies. Also, if the mission had been carried out with some official blessing, instead of by a minor internal thug.

The truth IS scarey, as is the threat they are countering. A real film could be made of this, something meaningful, but no one would watch. I wonder whether we really are a stupid people or that we would rather be frightened by clearly fake threats.

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All this and 9/11 still happened

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
23 March 2016

Watching Will Smith become the inadvertent target of the National Security Agency and the way they monitored him so closely, I couldn't help thinking, how could 9/11 have occurred? Should you feel all warm and secure we've got all this monitoring or should you be afraid, be very afraid?

Will Smith was already in enough of a jackpot trying to deal with Mafia hoods muscling in on a labor union he's representing. But he accidentally comes into possession of a tape showing the murder of a member of the House of Representatives played in a brief cameo by Jason Robards. Robards opposes further monitoring that NSA bigwig Jon Voight is fighting for and Voight is right on the scene. That could embarrass a whole lot of people.

Fortunately Smith comes to the attention of old CIA guy Gene Hackman who helps him figure out his predicament.

As for the rest of the film it kind of has an ending, a bit more complex to be sure, but an ending like a plan coming together on one of those old A Team television episodes. As for the surveillance all I can say is George Orwell's vision is coming close to reality.

Interesting film, non-stop action when it gets going like an Indiana Jones film. Fans of the principal cast members should find it pleasing.

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Worth a watch.

Author: juneebuggy from Canada
2 March 2016

This was a more than decent conspiracy thriller, although in saying that I do remember being way more impressed and freaked out by all the big brother technology when I first saw it in 98 than I did now in my re-watch. Most of the techno stuff is now so common place that we don't even consider it and it doesn't feel like such a threat as it did back then.

I liked the cast here a lot, Will Smith does a great job as Robert Dean whose life is turned upside down after an old friend slips him evidence regarding a congressman's murder. Dean quickly loses his job & his wife, has his bank accounts frozen and becomes a fugitive whose only hope is a cat loving mysterious former intelligence agent played by the very cranky but oh so good Gene Hackman. Jon Voight is also worth a mention as the head bad guy, as is a very sweaty and bloated Tom Sizemore as Pintero, the mob boss.

Some great action sequences along the way, although far fetched to a degree as Will is just a lawyer but after he goes on the run suddenly becomes an action hero, able to evade bad guys, scale balconies and use a pump action shot gun like a hit man. The ending is well done, a little tricky including an excellent shoot out.

Exceptional secondary cast here too including Barry Pepper, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Gabriel Byrne, Jason Lee and two second generation stars teaming up in Jake Busy and Scott Caan. 2/10/16

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Gene of the State.

Author: Python Hyena from Canada
26 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Enemy of the State (1998): Dir: Tony Scott / Cast: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King, Barry Pepper: The enemy in question is not asked within the compounds of the screenplay but rather in our own view on political issues. Will Smith plays a lawyer caught in a scheme where he must clear his name. Recycled plot yet director Tony Scott builds upon mystery elements to render it more detailed and a tad more intelligent than perhaps it is perceived as being. Smith gains accidental possession of a disc containing footage of the murder of a congressman. Gene Hackman appears after a third party is murdered. Scott shows skill here after making the highly overrated Top Gun and the vampire gore fest The Hunger. Smith is effective as a lawyer placed within a dire situation where he must clear his name. We know the outcome to this and that everything Smith lost he will regain. Hackman is in top form as a mysterious contact who has laid low for a very long time. Hackman is the reason to see the film specifically for his methods of outsmarting the enemy. Jon Voight plays the villain caught on camera committing murder and makes Smith's life difficult when he pursues a device placed in his possession. This will ultimately arrive at the standard shootout. Regina King is standard issue as Smith's wife. Pure action that should please fans of the genre. Score: 7 ½ / 10

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A thriller that becomes more relevant by the day

Author: breakdownthatfilm-blogspot-com from United States
30 August 2015

For certain aspects in life, there are specific things the average person has no control of. How other individuals interact with each other, how well a piece of operating equipment works or how technology advances itself forward are just a couple of examples. In the current world of today where computers are basically apart of everyone's lives, it's not that difficult for someone to find information on another person. All anyone has to do is go to any search engine whether it be Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask etc. and they'll at least get 2 to 3 webpages about or are connected to them in some way. It's the scary truth, being on the internet is not always the safest place to be. Looking back on Enemy of the State (1998) it seems that director Tony Scott and writer David Marconi have produced a piece of cinema that is an underrated gem that feels more significant now than it ever was the year it was released.

The story is about an attorney/family man Robert Dean (Will Smith) being unknowingly jammed into a big government conspiracy about a rouge senator Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) wanting to pass a bill that'll begin invading the privacy of the US residents. What Dean has that he doesn't know about is a videotape that a suspect hid in his bag that had visual evidence that Reynolds is behind the killing of congressman Hammersley (Jason Robards) who supported individual privacy. The idea of homeland security has always been a controversial topic since the concept was ever brought to fruition and using that as an undercurrent for the script's plot was a thought provoking move on Marconi's part. As stated before with technology being a much bigger proprietor for internet access, the ability to be researched is a lot easier than it was displayed in this movie. Dean ends up being hacked from all directions - his house & mobile phone, home and satellite. Now there's that, the internet, social media and a slew of other devices that make it easy to track someone.

Another part about the writing that is effective is how many times Marconi will keep the audience guessing. Every time there's a point where progress occurs, Marconi writes in an event that creates a new roadblock and a new solution plan has to be made. It's clever because most scripts are cut and dry with either one or (maybe) two remedies to a problem. This at least has three or four and its uncommon, which is good because it keeps the viewers guessing. The only component to the writing that doesn't make sense is how a supporting character was able to figure out where the FBI was located. Isn't the FBI supposed to be covert in their operations? It's a little weird that their main office doesn't seem to feel so secret. Other than that, almost every step of execution to this story is woven in such a way that'll have the viewer on the edge of their seat.

The acting is well done too. Will Smith as Robert Dean plays his character differently compared to other past roles. Throughout the majority of the running time Smith plays his character like an average family man; humble, respectful, caring and not cocky. Occasionally a small bit of the old-school Will Smith humor arises from the cracks but for the situation he's put into, sarcasm sometimes feels like it was needed. Tagging along side later on is Gene Hackman as Edward Lyle, an ex-NSA agent who knows the inner workings of the system and provides some frightening insight to how things run inside the government. With Hackman being a lot older, he plays it up as a grumpy man when he's hungry and although he's not the nicest sounding, he does care at certain instances. Behind these two are a ton of other cast members consisting of Jason Lee, Scott Caan, Jake Busey, Stuart Wilson, Regina King, Lisa Bonet, Gabriel Byrne, Jack Black, Jamie Kennedy, Larry King, Tom Sizemore and even Seth Green.

The cinematography provided by Daniel Mindel had a interesting look to it as well. Since this film involves surveillance of various individuals, the camera will have numerous angles to sit at. That means being hidden cameras in various objects, or among the buildings and street property. Then there's also the satellite tracking cameras that usually fly straight down to the location that's being focused on and then watching what's going on from a bird's eye view. Now obviously, the flying down from space to earth is CGI but after that it looks very real. Mindel later worked on other big budget films like Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Trek (2009), its sequel and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). The music composed by Trevor Rabin and Harry Gregson-Williams appropriately has the right mix of synthetic and organic sounding orchestra. There are also two main themes, one for the film and another for Hackman's character. They are not that memorable but they do show up more than once and that's good. The action cues aren't as well developed but they do elevate the experience.

Besides one plot hole being a bit too noticeable, the rest of the film is fine. The large cast of actors are effective in their roles, the cinematography carries lots of bird's eye view shots, the music is appropriate and the writing has smart context in its narrative.

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Kinetic cacophony of cinematic brilliance

Author: NateWatchesCoolMovies from Canada
17 August 2015

Tony Scott's Enemy Of The State is a sensationally kinetic, hyperactive espionage whizbanger that doesn't let up for a goddamned second. It's classic Scott, all edgy, blurred lines filmmaking with a relentless pace, eclectic cast and excessive amounts of unique style to go around. It's the precursor to his purely distilled style which can be found in Man On Fire, Domino and Deja Vu, with leftover residue from his 90's action aesthetic, observable in True Romance, Last Boy Scout etc. When an obstinate US Senator (Jason Robards) refuses to go along with a new bill being pushed through that allows the NSA full access to any citizens private phone calls, emails and communications via state of the art, scary technology (even by 2001's standards), he's discreetly dispatched by a letcherous, sociopathic NSA honcho (Jon Voight playing coldly ruthless to a T). Only problem is, a nature photographer (Jason Lee) accidentally gets footage of the murder. It gets passed off to hotshot lawyer Robert Dean (Will Smith) via circumstance, and from there the chase is on. It's a wicked chase too, one that doesn't let up for its entire two plus hour heart pumping runtime, with no moments to breathe whatsoever. Gene Hackman quasi reprises his role from Coppola's The Conversation as Brill, a crusty, high strung ex NSA agent who's gone rogue and paying dearly for it, as he assists Dean in his quest to bring down the corrupt agency. The film is somewhat ahead of its time, outlining invasions of privacy and corruption that seems tame by today's real life scandals. As thrillers go it's a gem, jumping from one explosive escape to the next, never sacrificing character as it hurtles along. Hackman's grumpy jadedness is a perfect companion to Smith's incredulous everyman, making a dynamic worth following. Voight makes a terrific villain as well, really amping up his scenes with a sick self justification. There's a jaw dropping supporting cast well. Jake Busey, Ian Hart, Jack Black, Seth Green, Gabriel Byrne, Loren Dean and Barry Peoper all show up as various NSA rats. Lisa Bonet, Regina King and Ivana Milicevic are awesome, and Arthur Nascarella and Tom Sizemore have nice bits as hammy mobsters. In the tradition of 24 and The Bourme Identity, it's a loud, chaotic blast of a thriller and one of Scott's best works.

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A film that's hard to follow the only good thing is the eye candy scenes of one Regina King!

Author: Danny Blankenship from Petersburg, Virginia
28 May 2015

Just again watched some of "Enemy of the State" for the first time in many many years and again I felt it was a hard film to follow with to many plot twist and to many characters who fade in and out of the story it's a little hard to understand! Yet it has star power with Will Smith and Gene Hackman, it can be called many genres from spy, thriller, action, and mystery drama, yet the plot centers around D.C. with a video tying top National security people to political murder, and then soon the NSA and other people get involved. As the action and fast pacing of this thriller blends action and technology to a new level. The real treat for me was the Regina King scenes she was great as Will's caring and sexy loving wife! And that scene in which Regina sports that silk dark sexy black colored bra I loved that was the best part of the film it made my day!

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Incredibly Smart or Incredibly Stupid

Author: Thomas Drufke
17 February 2015

Crime-Drama-Thrillers has always been my favorite mix of genres and I was very excited to finally get to watch Enemy of the State. Not only because it was a different role for Will Smith but because of the great all around cast. And boy does it have a great cast. It turned out to be nothing too special. I think it's a decent drama for a Saturday or Sunday morning viewing on cable, but I cant say I'm going to willingly watch it again.

The cast truly is terrific though. When you have Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Barry Pepper, and even Jack Black all in a movie together you expect greatness. They all give note-worthy performances, but I think the film lacked some focus in this area. At times it tried to give back stories to every one of the characters, even the ones we weren't really suppose to care about. If it were to have focused on only a select few of them, the film would have been more effective. Because of the lack of focus, you end up not really caring for any of the characters.

I did really like the premise of the film. It deals with privacy and the effects and impact it has on everyone when it's abused. You begin to question to yourself just how much of our lives are watched and monitored. But I do feel like they could have gone even further with it and made it more personal. The Lives of Others is a much better film based around a similar premise. The film does feel original though. I didn't feel like they were copying any other action film even nearly 20 years after its release. You also definitely feel the 135 minute length. It could have used about a 20 minute trimming job. So with the possible pacing and focus issues the film turns out to be a solid drama, but one that also feels a bit disappointing at the same time.

+Original premise

+Fascinating privacy concepts


-Pacing and lack of focus issues

-Weak supporting characters

-Feel the length


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Tony Scott's over-the-top NSA thriller

Author: SnoopyStyle
8 February 2015

Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) is a Special Adviser from the NSA. He is pushing for passage of a surveillance bill and he kills a congressman to get it. However a wildlife camera set up by Daniel Zavitz captures the murder. He goes on the run and bumps into college acquaintance DC lawyer Robert Dean (Will Smith). He slips Dean the tape and Reynolds directs the NSA to track down Dean. They use all their powers to discredit Dean before he even realizes that he has the tape. His investigator Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet) directs him to Brill (Gene Hackman) who is a secretive investigator that she uses. He is able to convince his wife Carla (Regina King) but they kill Banks and frame him for the crime. He tracks down Brill who reluctantly helps him. It turns out that Brill was a former NSA agent. The NSA tracks down Brill's hiding place and he's forced to go on the run after blowing the building up.

I like the ideas and the premise of the NSA surveillance. Sometimes Tony Scott pushes too far on the razzmatazz techno gadgets to silliness. He certainly pushes the wild over-the-top tense action which also goes too far at times. I really don't need all the yelling. The story doesn't need it. All the noise and flash bang overwhelms the possible cat and mouse game. Will Smith stays in his character no matter how ridiculous the story gets. I really like his first encounter with Gene Hackman although the story gets a bit too chaotic in the last act.

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