Anthony's Film Review

Enemy of the State (1998)

Enemy of the State delivers a nonstop edge-of-your-seat thrill-ride...

Let's take a look at the poster for Enemy of the State. The grainy quality and the pictures of Will Smith and Gene Hackman dividing the poster into thirds suggests video footage, the kind you'd see on a security camera. Will Smith looks tense, probably out of fear. Now look at the title and tagline. "Enemy of the State. It's not paranoia if they're really after you." I describe the poster because, originally, it enticed my curiosity and convinced me that it might be good.

After seeing it, my expectations were right. Here is a suspense movie that works with successful execution of three elements: plot, character, and theme. You have Will Smith as a man who unknowingly comes into possession of incriminating evidence of a political crime. You have the National Security Agency on his tail. You have Gene Hackman as someone who is willing to help Will Smith out of his dilemma. Throughout all of this, you are thinking about how far the government can and should go when it comes to invading people's privacy.

When you think about it, it's a great setup. You still, of course, need that rush of adrenaline to get your heart pumping. Fortunately, the movie does that quite well. When Will Smith is running from his pursuers through all sorts of passages, there is a great sense of fear as if you're in his shoes. Furthermore, it goes on for quite some time. You rarely get a break from the action.

The thought of the United States government watching your every move is very scary. When you see NSA men watching Will Smith on surveillance video, it's almost sickening. These so-called protectors are really more like predators. There is one character late in the film who asks, "Who's going to police the police who police the police?" It's another way of asking, "Is there anyone you can trust to protect you?"

Enemy of the State is simply a very intriguing thriller. It grabs you and doesn't let go. I also think it's a great way for Will Smith to transition to film from his work in television. He may have done so with Bad Boys and Independence Day, but even without those two movies, Enemy of the State allows him to shine in a memorable performance. Gene Hackman, of course, also delivers. With a great script and these two stars, one promising newcomer and one veteran, Enemy of the State is a movie worth seeing.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Enemy of the State, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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