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

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One of the Best Action films ever!

10/10
Author: Gunn from Minnesota
19 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen this film at least 8 times and it just gets better every time, and that's my criteria for a 10. Longevity is the key to a classic film. Take for instance North by Northwest, I saw it in 1959 as a teen and just saw it recently for over the 40th time and it's still as good as it ever was. Enemy of the State is in the same genre and 10 years plus after it was released, it's as great as ever. How can you go wrong with Wil Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight heading a topnotch cast where Gabriel Byrne, Jason Robards and Tom Sizemore play small, but key roles and Jack Black, Barry Pepper, Jake Bussey, Seth Green and Jason Lee are in the supporting cast. The story itself is well written, highly engrossing and superbly directed by Tony Scott. This one has everything a proper action-adventure thriller needs to achieve success and it keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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Fast thriller with privacy at stake

9/10
Author: Stampsfightclub from United Kingdom
15 March 2009

A political murder video ends up in lawyer Robert Dean's hands and makes him the target of the NSA The invasion of privacy, the question of politician's concerns, the drive to survive is Tony Scott's crime thriller.

Opening with a controversial political assassination, Enemy of the State is instantly engaging and what follows is an intense and opinionated open plot that makes you wonder about political agendas and the much talked about invasion of privacy.

David Marconi's script investigates the devices used by the NSA to track anybody who's an everybody and the investigation into the lives of the organisation is almost spooky with the technical devices used and the fact that anyone could be listening to your conversation. Whilst many may argue it is obviously sceptical, you cannot help but wonder what happens behind closed doors.

The pace is consistently active with an investigation into the murder of a congressman turning into a thriller and drama once Independence Day actor Will Smith enters. The plot revolves around a man who finds a tape of the murder in his possession and then turning it over to Dean with his awareness. The NSA then track Dean into finding this tape that will unravel their organisation if ever exposed. The chase scenes at the beginning are well handed, maintaining enough realism without diving too far into exaggerated stunts or technical superiority. Dean's story adds drama to the mix with his business dealings with an ex-girlfriend and a struggling home life because of it.

Smith's charm isn't fully active but he gains enough good will and drama to maintain the clueless act of a man who really does not know what is going on. Gene Hackman's Brill is one of the closed off intelligent guys that you have to love. That hard hit business like style with an own agenda and the little cheek the Unforgiven star brings is exquisite.

There are lapses and unrealistic moments. You have to wonder if the NSA could have done more to obtain the tape in a more quicker fashion and the final showdown is an overstretched coincidental mismatch that you have to feel is too finely played, as if it is purposefully played without consideration of realism.

Regardless this 1998 picture is a timeless thriller that generates high drama and tension through a controversial ideology and engaging narrative.

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Entertainment at its best

9/10
Author: jax713 from United States - Pacific time zone
8 March 2009

I just saw this movie for about the 6th time. It was a Sunday afternoon TV broadcast and, even with commercial breaks and knowing the story so well, I raced back to the sofa so I wouldn't miss a scene. As a suspense/action spectacle, this film has it all: imagination, engrossing topic, a solid script, and a visual pace that keeps you glued to the screen. It's real genius, however, is found in the uniquely interwoven assortment of strong characters who are all intense, intelligent and colorful and as different from one another as they could possibly be and still be in the same storyline. The actors and the characters they play, the plot, the dialogue, the direction, and the "message" all add up to one of the most entertaining and audience-centric movies ever made. For a movie that is 10 years old, it remains a gratifying pleasure to watch...more than once.

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what if?

8/10
Author: disdressed12 from Canada
31 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this was a well done movie dealing with big brother,invasion of privacy and conspiracy theory.it poses the question what if the conspiracy theories with government tracking you every movie and knowing all your intimate details were actually true.what if they could erase your life in an instant.Will Smith plays an ordinary joe,who is caught up,through no fault of his own in just that scenario.if you have any paranoia regarding,this sort of thing,this movie will heighten it.i don't think it's completely realistic.some things are added for dramatic affect and to heighten tension and keep the story moving.nevertheless,it is thought provoking.it poses the question what would you do in this situation.it's also very exciting at times.Gene Hackman John Voigt and Lisa Bonet also star.for me,Enemy of the State is a solid 8/10

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It will make you look around... searching the evil bugs... ;)

9/10
Author: yan ku from Israel
18 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Another movie about the little man being targeted by the government (the pigs inside who try to get to the top even if it means killing innocent people).

Lucky us Will Smith (the best actor this days i believe) knows how to take the garbage out, even if it doesn't look like it in the beginning.

You can even admire such a person, who's all life has been marked black by the government, getting him fired, making his wife go against him etc...

ago... and i do believe

I liked the plot, the action and the actors- great work!

The concept of the movie overall, is to uncover that privacy is an illusion, and you can be watched and heard even when you don't expect it. the movie was taken 10 years ago, and now days there are pin sized cameras, or microphones that can be everywhere. So are we really alone? Also, the movie makes you think that the movie was taken 10 years ago... and i do believe

I liked the plot, the action and the actors- great work!

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Succeeds as a thriller but fails as an action movie

8/10
Author: amalank from United Kingdom
13 August 2008

Will Smith plays a lawyer who receives information that the government does not want to be leaked. When he is discovered, he becomes an innocent victim and becomes discredited so that he cannot say anything about what he has been given.

The storyline to this movie is a very good one. It deals with the issues of being under constant surveillance. There is also a lot of tension to keep you on the edge. Will Smith did a very good job and proves that its not just comedy roles that he can do. Gene Hackman was electrifying in his role. I was however disappointed with the lack of action in this movie. There were many moments in the film which I really felt they could have made decent action sequences out of.

Although Tony Scott does make very good movies, I have eventually come to realise that he can't really make proper action.

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A bit long but an entertaining big budget Hollywood action thriller.

7/10
Author: Paul Andrews (poolandrews@hotmail.com) from UK
29 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Enemy of the State is set in Washington DC where New York congressman Phillip Hammersley (Jason Robards) is assassinated at an isolated lake by politician Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) because of his opposition to the Telecommunications Security & Privacy Act which Reynolds is trying to get passed as law. Reynolds thinks he has gotten away with it but wildlife photographer Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee) has a digital camera placed at the lake to monitor & record Canadian Geese, the camera filmed the whole incident in super high quality & Reynolds is clearly visible. Reynolds sends some men to take care of Zavisz but he manages to get away & slip the video footage contained on a disc to labour lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) before he is run down by a fire engine, unsure of how much Dean knows Reynolds & his men set out to ruin his life & discredit him as well as get the video back...

Directed by Tony Scott this political conspiracy action thriller is a neat little reminder of the sort of society we live in, that we basically have no privacy anymore & plays on our fears surrounding it. Originally widely released as an 'R' rated film running a little over two hours an 'Unrated' extended cut has been subsequently released containing an extra ten or so minutes, I will be basing my comment on the original theatrical cut. The script by David Marconi takes the all to relevant issue of privacy, covert Government surveillance & whether we have the right to do what we want when we want without politicians or the people & agencies who work for them knowing our every move. Certainly here in the UK there are CCTV everywhere, maybe the highest percentage in the entire world in fact & the whole 'Big Brother' is watching you mentality is used very effectively in Enemy of the State which plants it's allegiance on the side of the individual & that things are going too far with questions like who are going to monitor the people who are monitoring us? The film also paints an all too believable picture of how this new technology could be used for more sinister purposes. So here's a big Hollywood film with a surprisingly relevant message about an important social issue which is unusual. The film maintained ones interest throughout, the story is good, it's entertaining to see Dean's life fall apart & there are some good if slightly low key action scenes. It's not perfect though, at over two hours I must admit it did feel quite long at times, the ending is rather stupid as it descends into more traditional silly Hollywood thriller territory & stretched the films credibility a bit while the Reynolds character played by Jon Voight is given virtually no motivation & his stock villain character is at odds with everyone else.

The film has that big budget glossy look about it, lots of elaborate chases including one through an expensive hotel & a cool car chase between two trains. Having said that there are no really huge set-pieces apart from a building blowing up, there's a lot of foot chases which are alright but not that spectacular to look at. The violence is fairly tame & by Tony Scott action film standards the body count is very low.

With a supposed budget of about $90,000,000 Enemy of the State is as well made as you like with high production values. Apparently Tom Cruise was originally cast as Dean but he had to pull out since he was still filming Eyes Wide Shut (1999) & that's a good thing since Will Smith is great in this role, he makes Dean so likable with lots of boyish charm & amusing quick fire one-liners. Love him or loathe him he's perfect for this sort of part. Gene Hackman puts in a good performance too although he takes nearly an hour to turn up. Jon Voight seems a little flat & not at his best. Surprisingly respected actor Gabrile Byrne only appears for about a minute in nothing more than a cameo. Amazingly Tom Sizemore is uncredited in what is a fairly large role.

Enemy of the State is a great action thriller that I am sure most people will be able to relate to in some way, sure it eventually goes into silly Hollywood thriller mode but it's none the worse for it I suppose. I just wish it wasn't quite as long.

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Good if you don't watch many movies

7/10
Author: moviesleuth2
17 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I was younger, and just growing into my love of movies, I would frequently complain that film critics always hated the mainstream movies, and would only give favorable reviews to the weird, artsy ones. While there's some truth in that, there's a reason for it too. Movies at the multiplexes can often become repetitive, and don't have as high of an intelligence level as the average viewer. This problem gets worse as the number of movies one watches increases, hence the term "critic" comes into play. Such is the case with "Enemy of the State." It's great until you start thinking about it like a critic, then you recognize all the seams and problems.

I am getting off on a tangent, and I apologize. To be fair, "Enemy of the State" is above par compared with most entries in the conspiracy thriller genre. It's fast-paced, well-acted, and pretty smart. Sure, at times it goes over the top, but I'm willing to forgive because of all it does right.

Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) is a lawyer who has to go on the run after he comes into possession of a tape that has the recording of a congressman being murdered. Soon the government is onto him, tracking his every move, and the only one he can trust is the elusive, and slightly paranoid, Brill (Gene Hackman).

Probably the best thing that "Enemy of the State" has going for it is the performances. Will Smith is one of the most underrated actors around. Usually limited only to brainless summer action movies, this allows him to show his acting talent while still in a genre that he's comfortable with. Smith's character could have become another generic action hero, but Smith is smart and talented enough to play Dean as a human being, not a writer's construct. Dean is a normal man trapped in an extraordinary situation. The little things make Dean more believable: how he acts around his family, what he does, how he talks, etc. This makes him more believable, and elevates the film. The script calls for him to do some dumb things, but Smith manages to soften the blows considerably. Yet at the same time, Dean does some smart things too (some of which I believed, some I didn't). He knows how to cover himself without being told (a rarity for someone who is a lawyer, instead of a cop or something). For example, when he finds a woman dead and realizes that he's being framed, he doesn't just run away or try to make it look like there was a struggle, he picks up as much evidence as he can and then leaves.

Smith is supported by a talented cast. Gene Hackman is Gene Hackman, only a little quieter and without as much bravado. Credit goes to Hackman for underplaying his character's paranoia so as to not make Brill look like a nutjob. Jon Voight, well, one gets what they pay for when they see him in a role like this. Regina King is cast against type as Dean's wife, who's not a tough, but instead a normal wife, and she plays it well. Lisa Bonet is terrific in a small role, but Bonet makes her three-dimensional with the screen time that she has. It's a wonder why the former Cosby kid doesn't get any more roles as an adult (for my money, she's better as an adult).

There are also a lot of up and coming (at the time) stars who make appearances here: Scott Caan, Barry Pepper, Jamie Kennedy, Jack Black, Seth Green, Gabriel Byrne, Tom Sizemore, Jason Lee, Jason Robards, and Philip Baker Hall.

Tony Scott is a great choice for this material. He keeps the pace fast, and things never let up, but he doesn't shortchange anything. Nothing seems like it was left on the cutting room floor. The gimmicks he is known for are very restrained, and help serve the material instead of hurting it.

Still, sometimes the film goes over the top. Perhaps the budget was too big for its own good, but the amount of force that was after Dean seems excessive (the film could have lost the helicopter-if the Voight's character wanted to be discreet, would he really have made it look like he was going after the number one person on "America's Most Wanted?"). Additionally, the script makes some dumb moves. As good as Will Smith is, he can't cover up some of the blunders, like calling his house when he knows it's bugged.

I enjoyed the fact that this film was geared towards adults, instead of a teenager movie with more violence and language. It allows for some interesting plot developments to happen, and it allows the actors more room to breathe. Considering this is a Jerry Bruckheimer production, it's a sad memoriam for the films he used to produce before he "sold out" and only made big budget brainless action movies for the teenage crowd. This is his last, more adult-oriented big-budget movie that ISN'T a complete downer (like Black Hawk Down).

Strangely, with all of the fuss about the Patriot Act and personal security these days, "Enemy of the State" doesn't manage to find a deeper level with its uncanny resemblance to today's world. Maybe that's for the best though, so the viewer can enjoy it on its own terms, cause it's a fun ride.

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A Thrill Ride

7/10
Author: billion_mucks from Boston
2 November 2007

From the moment we first see him, Will Smith starts running. Moving throughout a urban, aggressive jungle, the character of Robert Dean can't take a breath being chased by the Almighty eye of the political power and having no private space or time to rest (any coincidence with real life is; just a coincidence :)), making the movie an exciting and fun roller coaster trip.

Tony Scott, is far from his brother's zone, but his less universal movies are done with a huge professional production, and you can sure trust them your time and money because it is pretty much sure that you will have a blast time and end satisfied.

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Amazing!

9/10
Author: schultzclan6 from United States
10 September 2006

Will Smith and Gene Hackman star in the tight thriller "Enemy of the State". I had wanted to see this movie for awhile, and I was excited when I saw it.

Will Smith and Gene Hackman make a great duo when it comes to battling fake cops and putting them through Hell as they attempt to make their way out of a deadly situation.

Not to say that the film does not have its unnecessary moments. There a 3 scenes that are inappropriate and pointless. Besides that, the film is outstanding. Pretty good acting, dazzling action, and a pretty tight story besides some minor plot holes makes "Enemy of the State" my movie of the year.

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