Enemy of the State [1998]

Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith) is a lawyer with a wife and family whose happily normal life is turned upside down after a chance meeting with a college buddy (Jason Lee) at a lingerie shop. Unbeknownst to the lawyer, he's just been burdened with a videotape of a congressman's assassination. Hot on the tail of this tape is a ruthless group of National Security Agents commanded by a belligerently ambitious fed named Reynolds (Jon Voight). Using surveillance from satellites, bugs, and other sophisticated snooping devices, the NSA infiltrates every facet of Dean's existence, tracing each physical and digital footprint he leaves. Driven by acute paranoia, Dean enlists the help of a clandestine former NSA operative named Brill (Gene Hackman), and Enemy of the State kicks into high-intensity hyperdrive. Teaming up once again with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Top Gun director Tony Scott demonstrates his glossy style with clever cinematography and breakneck pacing. Will Smith proves that there's more to his success than a brash sense of humor, giving a versatile performance that plausibly illustrates a man cracking under the strain of paranoid turmoil. Hackman steals the show by essentially reprising his role from The Conversation--just imagine his memorable character Harry Caul some 20 years later. Most of all, the film's depiction of high-tech surveillance is highly convincing and dramatically compelling, making this a cautionary tale with more substance than you'd normally expect from a Scott-Bruckheimer action extravaganza. --Jeremy Storey

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