Enemy of the State

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

Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery
Director(s): Tony Scott
Production: Buena Vista Pictures
  5 wins & 16 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
R (Restricted)

[Brill introduces Dean to his Faraday cage and starts activating his equipment]

Edward "Brill" Lyle:
The government's been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the forties. They've infected everything. They get into your bank statements, computer files, email, listen to your phone calls...

Robert Clayton Dean:
My wife's been saying that for years.

Every wire, every airwave. The more technology used, the easier it is for them to keep tabs on you. It's a brave new world out there. At least it'd better be. [analyzes disk] There it goes. It's some kind of simple encryption.

Oh, conspiracy theorists of the world, unite.

It's more than a theory with me. I'm a former conspirer. I used to work for the NSA. I was a communication analyst. Listen to international calls, calls from foreign nationalists. That GPS tracking device we found in your cellular telephone? I designed one of the first models in that series. Fort Meade has 18 acres of mainframe computers underground. You're talking on the phone and you use the word, "bomb," "president," "Allah," any of a hundred keywords, the computer recognizes it, automatically records it, red flags it for analysis; that was twenty years ago. You know the Hubble Telescope that looks up to the stars? They've got over a hundred spy satellites looking down at us. That's classified. In the old days, we actually had to tap a wire into your phone line. Now calls bouncin' around on satellite, they snatch right out of the air.

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