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Enemy of the State
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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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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Excellent, perfectly cast, thought provoking thriller!

10/10
Author: Leonard Moore (Window555@aol.com) from United States
21 September 2006

This was an excellent, well thought out, intelligent, masterpiece of a thriller! It's the best film I've seen since "Fugitive-The Movie" It is well done in so many ways that I don't know where to begin, so I'll just mention the high points that come to mind immediately. First of all, Will Smith, Gene Hackman, and Jon Voight are so well cast in their characters that it is scary.

Jon Voight is so good in his character as the sophisticated, cold hearted, fiendishly clever villain that it seems the part was made for him and only him. What a bad guy! You had to hate him (like Ernest Borgnine as the mean stockade Sergeant in "From Here to Eternity"). His character was so cold, calculating, and uncaring about humans, other than himself, that it was a pleasure to watch and try to understand his take on the events that took place,and how he justified his views.

Gene Hackman, as Brill, was such an integral part of this fast moving, thought provoking film, that without him as the perfectly cast ex-CIA Agent, the story would not have worked (and with him, it worked so very well). Hackman was a pleasure to watch, and his character was so fascinating and he played him so well that Smith, at times, just shook his head when I doubt that it was in the script.

Will Smith's character needed him so desperately, that it would have taken three or more very good actors to fill in all the missing pieces that "Brill" did alone and was such an interesting character to watch every second that he was on the screen. The whole privacy issue part of the plot was dealt with so well that one had to give it serious thought after the film – the pace of the action didn't allow for (discussion type) deep thought during the film. As the plot unfolded, "Brill" explained to us (the viewers) much of what was going on through his conversations with and schooling of Smith's character. A technique that I enjoy, because we learned as he learned - as much as they wanted us to know at any given point in time in the story.

Smith's character was beautifully cast in the typical "Alfred Hitchcock" formula of placing a somewhat ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, and then, we watch to see how he uses his wits to cope, while we subconsciously place ourselves in his situation and think at each step, what we -ourselves- would do in such a scenario. Beautiful.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Enemy of the State

8/10
Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
7 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A labour lawyer, Robert Dean(Will Smith)is embroiled in a controversial NSA cover-up when a former college pal from Georgetown(Jason Lee)leaves a recording of the murder of a Congressman(Jason Robards)at the hands of Thomas Reynolds(Jon Voight)the head of NSA because he opposed a Security act being passed regarding wire-tapping at will anyone they deem a possible threat against America. The disc is what Reynolds needs or it will certainly hit the fan in a major way. Reynolds tools all his resources putting his crackpot team of surveillance wiz-kids and footmen on the hunt for Dean, whose life is thrown into a tailspin thanks to his supposed ties with the mob and a source(Lisa Bonet)who gives him information from a Deepthroat named Brill. Brill, it turns out is Edward Lyle(Gene Hackman), a former NSA man himself removed from the agency he loved after an Iranian cover-up in the early 80's which sent him underground. His identity is uncovered once Dean meets up with him in an unfortunate state of affairs leading to both being on the lam. But, having a skilled technician who understands the world of surveillance and security breach(obviously, I was reminded of Coppola's THE CONVERSATION the entire time Hackman appears on screen;I believe they even use a photo of Hackman from that film when they search his background files)will lend Dean a helping hand in catching Reynolds and company making one false move or statement turning the tables on them in using their own methods on them.

Exhausting, thrilling, pulse-pounding roller-coaster doesn't let up once Dean is on the run. Smith and Hackman make an ideal team and the film plays at the entertaining, fast-paced level of THE FUGITIVE where Dean is continually running for his life at every turn trying every way possible to remain one step ahead of his pursuers. We get a glimpse inside the world of those who sneak a peak into our privacy..it's scary and we come to understand that this flick might just be a cautionary tale as well. The supporting cast of young Hollywood at the time(Jack Black, Seth Green, Jamie Kennedy,Scott Caan, Jake Busey,Barry Pepper)is enormous. One of Tony Scott's best films, this film may not be at all realistic, but is a hell of a lot of fun.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Style over substance... But this time style wins.

7/10
Author: athena24 from Israel
28 September 2006

Enemy Of The State is a nice action flick. But the special formula, used by Tony Scott, to make us like the movie, doesn't include great action, or great storyline. It has style, that includes an interesting general idea of the movie and great camera angles. The general idea, the movie was based on, is that you can be spotted anywhere in the open by the satellite, and be followed by it. The camera angles, and images that take us to the satellite and back add a lot to the intensity, which is already high. The movie is fast paced and never boring.

The plot is very simple. Murder, involving high rank officials, is taped. The tape falls to the hands of our main hero, Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith). Those involved will do anything to get rid of the evidence, and the chase begins. The plot turns to be superficial once Edward Lyle ( Gene Hackman ) gets into the picture and the ending is even less convincing then that. But the intensity of the movie, being always on the run, the cast and the style clearly compensate for the lack of plot originality.

Good refreshing movie, that stands itself out from other action flicks with general storyline, by being stylish and having an innovative idea.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Atmospheric Actioner Really Delivers

9/10
Author: Elswet from .: Fiendish Writings in the Dark :.
16 March 2007

Featuring one of Will Smith's best performances, but also presenting Jack Busey (Gary's son), and a riveting performance by Jack Black! Had I remembered this, I would not have been concerned over Jackson's King Kong (2005).

Enemy of the State delivers intrigue, suspense, action, intelligence, and actually generates some tense atmosphere. The dialog is never trite, the story line is well developed, not contrived. The performances are top notch. And the action is superb.

This is one good movie.

It rates an 8.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Very Fine Techno-Thriller

8/10
Author: mjw2305 from England
1 January 2007

Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) is a successful attorney who without his knowledge comes in to possession of a video tape that incriminates a top official of the national security agency (Jon Voight). A team of highly skilled NSA surveillance operatives set out to destroy Dean's world and retrieve the tape with the technology they have at their fingertips. His only chance is a man who understands the the NSA's tactics (Gene Hackman) and a thrilling ride ensues.

Enemy of the State is a state of the art technological thriller, with non-stop action, intrigue and suspense. Smith, Hackman and Voight are all brilliant and despite some very minor flaws the plot runs at a fast pace and is very believable.

Recommended 8/10

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

10/10
Author: Benjamin Wolfe from USA
16 September 2006

This grabs you by the throat, with an iron grip!! A private citizen (Smith) an attorney no less, is under suspicion, by a govt. department that doesn't have a customer service number for the public. Not in the yellow pages anyway. When a Congressman Hammersly, (Robards) discovers that this bill, the Privacy Act, would actually kill a couple large companies in his district and also end up exploiting, (his suspicions tell him)many Americans needlessly. He is asked by an official from the Government Dept. with no customer service dept. (Voight) to vote 'Their' way instead of what Hammersly wants. The good Congressman tells him basically to go to Hell. Shortly after that disagreement, the Congressman has a severe heart attack....and dies. A good man gone, the story just begins.

Mean while enter Smith, who happens to get caught in the middle and is inside an investigation of a Mob-'heavy'. Look out this spells trouble! Coinsidentally the FBI just happens to be investigating this Mobster heavy (Tom Sizemore)while Smith is delivering a video to him to let him know that he is going to have to testify in court, that he is being indicted! This does not sit well with this over-bloated megalomaniac. So the mobster, threatens Smith. On and on this goes and gets more interesting. Will Smith does fantastic work in this out of control thrill-rider. Enter Gene Hackman, a retired, former 'spook' for the agency, who worked in Iran before the 'fall' of that country. Hackman is a 'dramedy' delivering player, who without his help, making 'Brill' the character he portrays, this would not be the film it ended up as. The rest of the cast plays out convincing roles as well, this was a wonder-working story. Not all movies are equal, and this is one that shines. Even with years passing it, this feature spreads out it's events actions, reactions, problems and solutions masterfully. Our director Ridley Scott is a 'marvel' set up and execute mind. He takes and makes the interesting, even more so, by the way he lays it out. The story takes on a pace that moves fast and kind of makes your heart go to your throat, inasmuch as feeling as though you are trying to escape the long, reaching arm of a very secret agency, who's job, is watching everything possible out there.

Hackman, Smith Byrne, Bonet and Voight are well a 'sturdy' force playing out there respective characters, putting it together in this 'mix' and blending a winning thrill-chase of an enthralling story!

I recommend this work of dramatic excitement highly. Again and again. It makes you think twice...and then some. BLEND THIS!!(*****)

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