Enemy of the State (1998)

Rating 15

Length 2Hr 12

Release 26.12.1998

About Corrupt National Security Agency official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) has a congressman assassinated to assure the passage of expansive new surveillance legislation. When a videotape of the murder ends up in the hands of Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), a labor lawyer and dedicated family man, he is framed for murder. With the help of ex-intelligence agent Edward “Brill” Lyle (Gene Hackman), Dean attempts to throw Reynolds off his trail and prove his innocence.


The Good

  • This is one smart ass thriller. One of those Rubik’s Cube movies where not everything really fits together until the final twist. These don’t exist anymore: we’ve been left with GI Butler and his mind boggling saving the President/World/Career vehicles that give you a very different brain ache.
  • I do love that even though this is perhaps my 50th watch, my heart is still in my mouth and hoping the plot does (and doesn’t) change. I’ll go out on a limb and say, for me, it’s the best and most rewatchable Will Smith film.
  • Take a look at that cast list! I think this film caught my attention with Gabriel Byrne and Seth Green, but we have second generation actors Jake Busey and Scott Caan as out cats to Smith’s mouse. Pretty much everyone on Jon Voight’s team will have you reaching for IMDB because they have been, are and will be faces from many a movie.
  • That face off is up there for me with the final showdown in Leon. It’s gritty and grand, while feeling so very claustrophobic. I just love it.

The Bad

  • Babe, the fucking cat! I love cats and that one’s gorgeous but it’s not practical (there’s no way it’s in that bag AND surviving) and I don’t feel like it tells me much about it’s owner. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, cut it out.
  • Jack Black needs lessons on acting with a god damn phone. Every single time he would close the flip of his phone and THEN tell the person on the other end ‘already on it.’ Or some derivative. It shouldn’t annoy me, but it does and now I’ve passed it on.

The Ugly

  • It feels long. It feels closer to a 3 hour movie and while I don’t feel like we stand still for a single second, it loses steam in the last third. It’s almost like it’s one scene or one location change too long.

Final Thoughts

It scares me how ‘retro’ 1998 seems: it was only yesterday!!! Dated tech aside, this film is as relevant today as ever it could be. America undoubtedly has the most corrupt government in the history of the free world and with so many privacy breaches, leaks and hacks this movie will scare the shit out of you.

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