Enemy of the State

Title: “Enemy of the State”

Year: 1998

Run Time: 132 mins

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Cast: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Stuart Wilson, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, Gabriel Byrne, Jason Lee

Director: Tony Scott

Plot: What happens when an unsuspecting law biting citizen, oblivious to the conspiracies around him, gets pulled into the dark world of espionage? You get a thriller packed with action that is riddled with secrecy, conspiracies,  personal destruction, and one man’s fight to regain his life back.

When an environmental researcher named Zavitz (Jason Lee) accidentally records the political murder of a high profile figure executed by NSA top official Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight), it triggers a string of events that will forever change the life of labor lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith). As Zavitz tries to flee from the NSA henchmen hired to apprehend him and the tape, he consequently runs into Dean and unknowingly passes off the incriminating evidence to him. Instantly, Dean’s seemingly ordinary life is torn apart by highly skilled and resourceful NSA operatives. They use every high-tech resource in their repertoire to violate every civil liberty Dean has in order to humiliate him and make him give up the evidence of murder he has no clue he possesses. As he is forced into this dark world of espionage, he unwillingly crosses paths with a mysterious ex-NSA  genius named “Brill” (Gene Hackman) who, at the same time, doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. But as fate would have it, they both quickly figure out that both of their lives hang in the balance with one another. Now take this high powered ride as Dean enlist’s the help of one single extraordinary man in order to reclaim his innocence, his family and the only life that he has ever had!

When you gather the powerful duo of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (“The Rock”, “Bad Boys II”, Crimsom Tide) and match them up with the directing leadership of Tony Scott (“Man On Fire, “The Taking of Phelam 123”) you have the type of chemistry that can only result in the creation of a heart stopping “in your face” thriller. All three of these names are synonymous with high powered non-stop action thrillers. “Enemy of the State” is without a doubt, no exception to this correlation because of how these three men expose a highly controversial subject ( invasion of civil liberties) and translate it to the screen through superb writing and exceptional visionary camera work.

The first ingredient that these three needed in order to produce this type of movie was the careful selection of top notch leading and supporting actors. Will Smith was a perfect shoe-in for the leading role of Robert Clayton Dean. Dean possesses the classiness and the intellect of a high powered lawyer, at the same time having just enough street smarts to compliment the brashness of his character. If that doesn’t spell out “Will  Smith” then I do not know what does. Will Smith brought his business like demeanor, as well as his early up-bringing in the Philadelphia streets to bring this character to life. As a result, Will Smith delivers a very powerful performance that will make it possible for all viewers to remember this as being one of his most intriguing roles. Add to this mixture, the supporting roles of legendary Gene Hackman, as “Brill” and Jon Voight as “Thomas Reynolds” and you find yourself with a movie that just can’t fail. Hackman and Voight use their on screen leadership to give this movie the extra power punch that is needed for a Simpson, Bruckheimer, Scott film. Not to mention a cast of other great on screen performances given by actresses such as Regina King (“Carla Dean”) and Lisa Bonet (“Rachel Banks”) who help add to explosiveness of this movie.

The Obvious: This movie will spark the nerve of every person who watches it because it exposes the extreme possibility that our very own government can and will infringe on our civil liberties in the pursuit of a so-called safer nation.

The Not So Obvious: Where-as this movie may seem like fiction, this type of technology and despicable actions do occur in our everyday lives made possible by “Project Echelon” as depicted, but not specifically mentioned, in “Enemy of the State”.

The Final Cut: Simpson, Bruckheimer and Scott have proven why they are to be considered three of the best producers and directors when it comes to making high powered action thriller movies. The acting, the dialog, as well as the cinematography and special effects make this a top notch movie. This movie is for anyone who likes to be at the edge of their seat at the same time having their intellect challenged. In the words of Brill, “You are either incredibly smart…or incredibly stupid.” And it is in my opinion that it would be incredibly smart of you to take the whole family to watch one of the best action films ever made.

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