ORBzine - 1999.01 Cinema Movie Reviews

ORBzine - Review: Enemy of the State - January 1999

Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State [dir. Tony Scott ]


This film was chosen because

  • It displays technology far in advance of what is available to the average modern household
  • The trailer was Star Wars: Episode One
  • It's the only vaguely SF-related movie at the cinema in ages.

    It stars Will Smith [ Men In Black, ID4 - you know who Will Smith is!], John Voight [ Anaconda ], and Gene Hackman [err - what the hell, you know who Gene Hackman is!]. The film's central plot device is a digitally recorded video of Voight and his henchmen murdering a US politician; the recording is passed to the unwitting Smith [a lawyer] who is then targeted by Voight's NSA electronic surveillance unit.

    In order to damage Smith's credibility, Voight destroys his life - even going so far as to frame him for murder. To survive against such a powerful enemy, Smith has to turn to a surveillance expert of his own for help.


    The film was directed by Tony Scott , guilty of Days of Thunder, but don't let that put you off because his new film is actually quite good. Smith displays a certain maturity in his role, while Voight and Hackman are stuck in the kind of parts they have been typecast in for years.

    Conspiracy films have been popular ever since Watergate - 3 Days of the Condor and The Conversation are prime examples of the genre from that era.

    The original aspect of this movie is that, in true Tarantino fashion, the bad guys are given characterization! Instead of the typical faceless men in grey, these villains are techno-nerds [face it, who better to deal with electronic surveillance gadgets?]. One of them is played by the Chris Farley- lookalike who got blown away by Bruce Willis in the IRA propaganda movie The Jackal, while the other is Seth Green [a Season 3 regular in Buffy the Vampire Slayer].

    Apart from the Tarantino touch, the other, more obvious debt this movie owes is to the X-Files - although this is far more entertaining than the dull soap opera that the Mulder and Scully show has become. Not that I don't like soap operas, I just feel that Chris Carter let his show slip into the bottomless abyss of mundanity long ago.

    Rating: 90%

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