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ENEMY OF THE STATE

SYNOPSIS:
When an incriminating tape is slipped into one of Robert Dean’s (Will Smith) shopping bags without his knowledge, it puts his life and family in danger as secret agents seek to retrieve the tape, on which a naturalist has captured a covert ops murder of a Congressman who stood against proposed new snooping legislation. Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight), a high-ranking snoop, leads the hunt. With his life being systematically dismantled by the covert ops boys, Dean is told to find the mysterious Brill, a shady contact who may hold the key to his situation. But who is Brill? A tough-talking stranger (Gabriel Byrne) who corners him in a lavatory? A pugnacious nerd (Gene Hackman) who threatens him with bodily harm? Or someone else?

"Maybe it’s the presence of Gene Hackman - in his most engaging and powerful performance for some time - but Enemy of the State puts me in mind of The French Connection, both for sustained tension and strong story, told with a character list from cinema heaven. Will Smith proves he can carry a film as a dramatic lead, joining the ranks of Wesley, Denzel, Samuel, Angela, et al. (It’s no longer sheer tokenism that puts black actors in top roles.) Although some may find the journey a tad too long, it is gripping and seat-edge travel all the way on this trip, the last third of the film actually gaining momentum. Right wing politics and covert ops are given new relevance with super-advanced snooping technology; there is much to hold our interest, especially as the editorial stance of the filmmakers is evident: the issue at the core of the film is a piece of legislation that empowers government to spy on people in the national interest. This film suggests – and demonstrates with its hypothetical story – that more surveillance is a bad and dangerous thing for you and me. So there is a moral/political issue to give the film ballast, while the private and personal stories gives it the zing to hook us. All-out thriller direction and editing, together with a great score, knuckle whitening action and solid characterisations, make this the best thriller of recent times. Go thrill."
Andrew L. Urban

"From the stylish, action driven opening credits to the thrilling chases throughout, Enemy of the State is exciting and stimulating cinema with a top cast. All the ingredients are there – non-stop action with direction that captures you. Big brother is watching, and we feel surrounded. Almost claustrophobic at times, the speed with which the satellite state of the art technology works is dazzling and frightening, as it intrudes into every aspect of life. It's a very large concept, made accessible by down-to-earth characters, an engrossing script punctuated by wry humour and real human foibles. Will Smith is the perfect anti-hero, who exhibits all the qualities that make him a decent human being. Will Smith and Gene Hackman form an awesome combination; theirs is a relationship that explodes on every level. The entire cast is terrific – Regina King has lots of heart, Jon Voight makes a chilling conscience free adversary, Lisa Bonet, Jason Lee, Gabriel Byrne – all make a great contribution. You can't fool technology? Or can you? Much of the film is told cinematically – the script doesn't stand in the way of the pictures, but the use of music (driving, emotive, big score) is paramount to the crescendo of tension. This is a film where the milliseconds count. It's about the thrill of the chase, the intelligence behind the action and how it all comes together. Admirably. Don't miss it!"
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See our Behind the Scenes FEATURE

ENEMY OF THE STATE (M15+)
(US)

CAST: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King, Lisa Bonet, Loren Dean, Ian Hart, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, Jason Lee, Gabriel Byrne, Tom Sizemore

Director: Tony Scott

PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer

DIRECTOR: Tony Scott

SCRIPT: David Marconi

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Mindel

EDITOR: Chris Lebenzon

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin, Harry Gregson-Williams

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Benjamin Fernandez

RUNNING TIME: 140 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 7, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE (Sell-thru): May 8, 2002

VIDEO RELEASE: July 7, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment







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