Enemy of the State (1998) Poster

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Crackerjack Thriller with a message...
neilmac6 December 2003
Why? Well for starters there is the best chase sequence since The French Connection. Then there is Will Smith as an actor - not just a star, though later in the movie he is admittedly overshadowed by veteran Gene Hackman.

There are two layers to this movie: On the surface is a pacy thriller with edge-of-the-seat chases but underneath lies a telling commentary on government surveillance. It is one of those truth-in-fiction stories which makes its point about government intrusion into privacy dramatically and effectively.

There are references to the classic, The Conversation: The surveilled couple talking in the park, and the Hackman character's premises are an obvious recreation of his workshop in the earlier movie. If you haven't yet seen The Conversation - see it before you see this one - you will understand the Hackman character a lot better (besides, it is a superb movie in its own right).

Oh, and Jon Voight is terrific as the bad guy...
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pswanson0026 January 2006
I don't know how I missed this in theaters, but I watched it for the first time tonight. I almost gave it a 10, because this is as good as the suspense/action drama gets. Somebody on the DVD special features called it "...a combination of Crimson Tide, The French Connection, and 3 Days of the Condor." From my list of favorites I'd also say it has aspects of Marathon Man, The Fugitive, and The Firm. Will Smith, whose work does not thrill me 100% of the time, is terrific, and Gene Hackman could not have been better. They also receive support from some great character actors, many of them UNCREDITED (a fact which blew me away).

My enjoyment was enhanced by being familiar with Hackman's The Conversation, in which he plays Harry Caul, one of the world's greatest audio surveillance men. His hideout/office in Enemy is reminiscent of Caul's digs, and the photograph which the bad guys have on file for him is of his character from The Conversation. I sort of wish they'd named the new character Caul, giving long-term continuity to the story.

I'm running off at the fingers here, so I won't elaborate on the location, direction, etcetera, but will end with SEE THIS FILM!
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Still today one of the best movies I have ever seen ( A+ Movie) My Ratings 10/10
Muhammad_Rafeeq17 February 2020
People who don't care about government surveillance will find the movie boring. For everyone else it's a paranoid thriller with an important message. Is there any greater power then the ability to spy on anyone at anytime? "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."Exhilarating and entertaining, Enemy of the State is a topical chase thriller that provides the audience with solid escapism and a thought-provoking narrative inspired by Francis Ford Coppola's timeless classic The Conversation.
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I like this one, also beeing somewhat realistic (not in every detail of course).
rolfhub24 August 2002
Well, I like this one. I like the cast, the visuals are well done, but what is more important is the plot that I like really much. It's not the most sophisticated plot of all times, but I think it's quite good, and to some degree, realistic. Of course it's not possible to move sattelites that quickly, or zoom in on a videotape that much and still have crystal-clear visual, but quite some technology seen is realistic today, or in the near future. This is an hollywood flick, all right, so they have quite much action and everything looks very easy, steering a sattelite seems to be no harder than playing a video game, what makes it all seem a bit unrealistic/sci-fi-like, but today's technical posibilities are quite large, and continue to grow, so informing oneself about the issue (I mean the real world issue) is not a bad idea.

To give you some points to think:

  • It's routine for the credid card companies to document every transaction made with the cards, go figure who gets the docs if police is investigating.

  • Every call / fax done is documented for billing, go figure, who...

  • At least for your ISP it's possible to read every unencrypted email you send or receive, go figure ...

  • Today there are MANY cameras in public areas in Great Britain, with numbers still growing.

  • Face recognition software is already being used in combination with some surveillance cameras.

  • Dictation software that can interpret your spoken word and convert it into written text is being sold to you today, maybe some organisations have much better versions at their hands ...

The list could go on, but what I want to say is that one should think about the posibilities and listen to what the politicians say, and what they want to allow the federal organisations.

You want to be able to still _enjoy_ the movie in some years time, not thinking of it as being somewhat normal just as everyday life, all right?
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Excellent action/thriller!
UniqueParticle12 April 2020
Love this Tony Scott conspiracy theory film! Glad I own Enemy of the state, it's exhilarating and has a great cast! Thought provoking types are my jam lots of ins and outs involved. FBI tracking people is always intriguing in movies especially in the vein of Tony Scott; he's done a lot of wildly entertaining projects. Extortion scheme thats a unique way to describe part of the story. I absolutely love in this Gene Hackman he's legendary - all around awesome would recommend to anyone!
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You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide
CrassActionHero22 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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One of the best thrillers ever made and very much ahead of its time.
peter_j_l5 September 2020
This movie was released 1998 and then got critique that is was not that realistic. Now 22 years later we know that this is no science fiction at all. Unfortunately. The movie has stood the the test of time really well - especially since being made 22-23 years ago! Very underrated! Should be way over 8.5 - at least!
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The government's been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the forties. They've infected everything.
hitchcockthelegend18 July 2020
Enemy of the State is directed by Tony Scott and written by David Marconi. It stars Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King and Lisa Bonet. Music is by Harry Gregson-Williams and Trevor Rabin, and cinematography by Dan Mindel.

A lawyer becomes targeted by a corrupt politician and his N.S.A. goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a politically motivated murder.

Superb action thriller, we find Tony Scott on fine story telling form, backed up by Smith (how great to see the actor and not the star) and the always awesome Hackman adding his character driven gravitas to the stew. We are frighteningly drawn into a very real hi-tech world, which in turns becomes thought provoking and intriguing.

Scott knows how to work an action scene and edge of the seat sequences, and he doesn't disappoint here. The running time of 2 hours 10 minutes is arguably a touch too much, but there is never any moments of extraneous sequences or pointless filler, the screenplay ensures that all conversations and character activities mean something, and therefore should be noted.

A hot buck roll call of rising actors are in on the fun, namely Barry Pepper, Scott Caan, Jake Busey, Jamie Kennedy and Jack Black, which leaves us with a smart and thrilling pic that's served at a breakneck pace. Enemy of the State delivers wholesome genre entertainment. 9/10
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Good thriller - Hackman makes it
bob the moo21 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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Enemy of Big Bro
questl-1859228 September 2020
I remember when this came out and how much it freaked people out. Could we really be living in such a surveillance state? Could the government really be monitoring us whenever they want?

Well, over 20 years later and... Yeah, that's probably all true and then some. Still, this was a fun movie with a compelling enough story, solid acting and a surprisingly deep cast of comedians playing serious computer nerds.

Biggest downside to me was the tech itself. Movies of this nature can't help themselves from reaching into the nonsense handbag and pulling out things like the "zoom and enhance" cliché or the ability to tell exactly where someone is at all times with pinpoint accuracy among others.

Dated though it may be, this was still a pretty enjoyable watch. I'd say it's worth checking out if you have it streaming somewhere.
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Movie with Foresight
abraham-859-4994175 March 2020
This film troubled the average viewer because of how vulnerable they were made to feel.

It seemed to be as spot on as could be. 22 years later society smoothered in electronic gadgetry, cameras on every street corner and hundreds of billions of dollars per year appropriated to "defense," even "eyes only" likely are not aware of 100% of where America is with surveillance.

Jon Voight plays a familiar role as 'villain.' 'Good' prevails in the end even if massive casualties accompanied it.

Smith and Hackman not surprisingly are outstanding.
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All rounder
MAYESY-446 June 2020
This film has a lot of positives, a good storyline, good cast and a lot of cat and mouse chasing with twist and turns a long the way.
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One of my favorite action-films ever.
Panterken16 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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A Masterpiece Thriller Ahead of Its Time
heisenberg127 February 2019
Wow! Talk about a "thrill ride". I Highly recommend this movie- it has to be one of the most underrated movies on IMDB and was way ahead of its time. If you saw this in 1998 or 1999, you probably weren't as familiar with the technology and issues at hand, but if you watch it again, you will be able to keep up with the exposition and what it all means. Watch it again is all I can say.

It will entertain you with its 90 minutes of literal nonstop action and excitement, but it is also more relevant today than ever before, revealing morally how technology can be abused by governments to spy on people through all of technology and how such intrusion has evolved over the last fifty years- "Who is going to watch over those watching over others? And who's going to watch over those watching over those watching over others?"

However, this film also just entertains as a simple thriller, with nonstop action, suspense, and extremely fast pacing. It has a stellar cast. You'll even catch an unknown-at-the-time Jack Black and even Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) in key smaller roles. Will Smith, Jon Voight, and Gene Hackman lead an all-star cast, and even Gabrielle Byrne makes an appearance in a memorable limited role, as does Tom Sizemore.

But it is Hackman who shines the most as a retired NSA agent who has been living off of the radar with a secret identity for the last couple of decades. Spying is heavy business, and he has decided it's best for him to no longer exist based on his previous experience in the Iran war and knowing too much. This is one of his best performances and that is saying a lot. He probably could have been nominated for an Oscar, but the Tony Scott action-type movie here probably wouldn't appeal much to voters.

Smith also gives one of his more memorable performances as a man set up and on the run from the government after he happens to accidentally gain possession of something of importance.

This is a true edge-of-your-seat thriller from practically the very start to the very finish and probably one of the most underrated movies on this site scoring only at 7.2, which is probably just due to when it came out in 1998, long before so many people relied on IMDB for voting and rating movies, and also before average viewers could fully understand and interpret the material- ahead of its time.

The only major flaw it had is at the very ending climax, which devolved into a little bit of a far-fetched, cliched action scene that requires major suspension of belief, unlike the two hours preceding it, which comes across very realistic and believable. Compared to everything else, it almost feels like it doesn't fit the film, but it does work for a simple minded action climax that is entertaining and some people would find awesome.

Highly recommended.

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The best Will Smith movie to date!
Xophianic4 February 2000
I enjoyed ENEMY OF THE STATE very very much. I like Will Smith, even though I found WILD WILD WEST very disappointing, and I thought this movie looked great when advertised. I was not disappointed. This is by far better than any of Will Smith's movies so far.

Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) seems to have an average American life. He has a pretty wife and a fine young son, as well as his own house and a successful job as a lawyer. But when he accidentally finds himself with evidence of politician Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) killing somebody, his entire life is in jeopardy. His job destroyed, his reputation tarnished and his life in danger by Renolds and a gang of military soldiers and hackers, he turns to a friend, Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet). She leads him to Brill, (Gene Hackman) a paranoid informant who is also on the run from the government, to help him.

The acting in this movie is great. Will Smith is at his absolute best in this movie, but the spotlight does probably belong to Gene Hackman for his part as Brill. Seth Green also does a great job as what started as a cameo and became a vital part of the movie. Jon Voight is superb as the evil politician, Lisa Bonet does well as Smith's ex-girlfriend, and Regina King does a fair job as Smith's wife. All of the characters are cool and interesting, especially those of Smith, Hackman, Voight and Green.

The action is this movie is terrific. There are some very entertaining chases, both car and foot, as well as gunfights and explosions. The ending is also pretty cool. The realism is a little far fetched, (especially when Will Smith goes into a lingerie shop and there are tons of good looking girls modeling it all over the store) but it is believable enough for the viewer to have fun.

I really enjoyed this movie and will buy it first chance I get. Go out and rent it and enjoy, you'll probably feel the same way.
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Interesting plot, will make you wonder who's watching you!
TxMike7 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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All proven true
deadlynexos6 December 2019
This movie predicted the future good movie. A good movie to watch with family kinda gives you the goosebumps how really this all is.
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Really makes you think.....
popnruss19 May 2017
This is one terrific film that sends a very strong message. It speaks volumes of just how dangerously close we are now to "never being alone." Will Smith is always fun to watch and he doesn't disappoint in this film. Jon Voight is terrific as the megalomaniac leading a goon squad that makes Tony Soprano's crew look like the Seven Dwarfs. Gene Hackman is always good no matter which role he's in. The action is non-stop, to say the least, never a dull moment. Really enjoyed this one!
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In God we trust all others we monitor.
Imagine7 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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Old but gold
amirma-7898231 March 2020
Watching a movie made 22 years ago but still keeping an amazing thrilles on of the best action movie to date
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Gripping - Got My Attention
genevadavid8 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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Excellent, perfectly cast, thought provoking thriller!
Window55521 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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A film you had to see on the Big Screen.
jamesjchapman-379037 October 2019
I don't want to give anything away. But the ending is a cracker that just leaves your jaw agape in a cinema. A great film that ropes you in early and keeps you wanting more as it builds into a climatic crescendo. Not normally a big Will Smith fan, but he's good here and certainly holds up well with legends Gene Hackman and Jon Voight, the latter of whom is dead-scary in this one. You won't regret seeing this. Stellar performances all round and an eerie theme we all could well question ourselves over having seen this movie.
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Well rounded A+
CheshireCatsGrin19 November 1999
This movie is one of the best well rounded I've seen in a long time. I'm not a Will Smith fan but this movie had it all and it was well edited. The drama did not interrupt the action nor visa versa. There was a great true to life security satellite and NSA scenario (and no, I don't belong to any conspiracy organizations *smile*). It was like a well oiled-machine.
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One of the most entertaining thrillers of the late 1990's.
hu6755 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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