Enemy of the State is one of those movies that will be watched in the future as an example of the visionary work of our generation. Keep in mind that this movie came out in 1998, and today I believe that most of the devices and tracking systems seen in this flick are in action. Edward Snowden proved this, revealing the almost unbelievable dimensions of this issue. I recommend you check out some of the podcasts with him if you want to know more. I was especially blown away by the Joe Rogan one.
It’s weird to think that Will Smith, fresh off the set of Men in Black, could be so good in this role. Up until this point, I saw him more as a carefree action guy with loads of charisma. Several years later he will confirm this with his best movie to date The Pursuit of Happyness. The rest of the crew was also great. Gene Hackman tapped into his seventies classics and Jon Voight is one hell of a bad guy. And I’m sure you’ll recognize almost the entire supporting cast. Finally, Enemy of the State is directed by Tony Scott who made so many phenomenal thrillers. Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Unstoppable, just to name a few. And we can now add this one to the list.
It’s delightfully subversive and even frightening at times. I’m not going to say that it’s surprising we got an opportunity to see a movie like this, buttfuck it I’m going to say it. On the other hand, I think I’m giving the general public too much credit. They don’t want to know, change or learn anything new. They don’t want the responsibility that comes with knowledge and as soon as they feel it, they shy away from it.
Lawyer Robert Dean, played by Will Smith, after meeting an old friend becomes a main target for the government. His only help will come from a mysterious man called Brill, and boy does he need help. The government will use every possible asset in this pursuit, and then we can finally see what is the extent of their reach.
Enemy of the state goes into detail about the dangers of oppressive regimes, something that most people just “know” is not going to happen in the mighty US and A. However, the fact that the NSA refused to work with the production does mean something. And what it means is that you should watch this fucking movie. In my opinion, this is of the best thrillers of the nineties, mostly because of its story and performances. The production values are top-notch along with cinematography. It’s one of the rare mainstream movies willing to tackle some rather controversial issues.
Intelligent but also willing to indulge in thrilling action sequences, it will keep your attention for two whole hours. And when you finish watching it, you will have something to think about. Especially when you consider the fact and so much time has passed. Just one year earlier, we had the pleasure of seeing a somewhat similar albeit much more commercial Conspiracy Theory. Still, you might want to check it out, if you’re looking for similar movies. Although I would always recommend Carpenter’s classic They Live as a much better choice. Enjoy.
Director: Tony Scott
Writer: David Marconi
Cast: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Jake Busey, Jason Lee
Fun Stuff: Gabriel Byrne’s character looks and dresses exactly like Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s character in Taxi Driver (1976). He also drives Dean away in a taxi.