"ENEMY OF THE STATE: SPECIAL EDITION"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Will Smith as ROBERT CLAYTON DEAN
Gene Hackman as BRILL
Jon Voight as THOMAS BRIAN REYNOLDS
Regina King as CARLA DEAN
Loren Dean as LOREN HICKS
Jake Busey as KRUG
Barry Pepper as DAVID PRATT
Jason Lee as DANIEL LEON ZAVITZ
Gabriel Byrne as FAKE BRILL
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Directed by: Tony Scott
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I admit that, at times, I believe the conspiracy theorists. When “Enemy of the State” came out, the ideas and concepts behind it were not new to me. However, having read plenty of conspiracy theories about shadow government and NSA violations, I was impressed with how well they were portrayed in this film.
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“Enemy of the State” follows Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), a Washington D.C. lawyer who becomes entangled in a conspiracy and manhunt. NSA official Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) has overseen the murder of a Congressman, and there was an inadvertent video recording of the event. The recording gets in Dean’s hand, unbeknownst to him, and he becomes the target of the NSA.
In the special features on the DVD, director Tony Scott talks about how he wanted to make the sequences realistic to what is possible in terms of tracking and surveillance. That was one of the strengths of the film. The technology is not overdone to the point of being ridiculous Hollywood concepts. Using satellites and microtechnology, it’s completely possible to keep tabs on someone as they do in this film.
“Enemy of the State” is a classic cat-and-mouse story. Will Smith plays well as the reluctant hero, but the real fun character is Brill, played expertly by Gene Hackman. Brill is an ex-NSA guy who has disappeared off the grid and lives the life of paranoia. Of course, he’s only really paranoid about what he knows is possible.
The funniest part of this movie for me is that I know people like Brill. They’re not as good at keeping off the grid (otherwise, how would I know them?), but they are clearly as paranoid and worried about government surveillance.
The DVD includes two featurettes about the making of the film. There’s also a couple deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. A commentary by Tony Scott, or even the technical advisors, would have been great, but no such luck.
When this film came out, it sparked a debate (and also served as a reaction to concerns) about how much our government watches us. Sadly, this is not anything we will ever discover for sure. Our government watches us constantly, and nothing is off limits. Whatever they’re disclosing, they’re doing a lot worse. Be offended if you want, but that’s what the government does.
One intriguing thing about this film is to watch it in a post-9/11 world. “Enemy of the State” was released in 1998 (and gave Reynolds’ birthday as September 11, oddly enough). In many ways, it predicted the debate about the Patriot Act. In some ways, if you want to believe in the dark side of government, we are already past the predictions of “Enemy of the State.” Put that in your conspiracy pipe, and smoke it.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.