ENEMY OF THE STATE


1998

DIRECTOR: Tony Scott

May Contain Spoilers!

Will Smith’s career was on the up, and he needed to prove himself as a dramatic talent as well as a comedy rapper, and I’m sure whether you can count Independence Day doing this. But Tony Scott’s thriller which looks at the “Big Brother” technology which invades our privacy every day, may have been his ticket.

I don’t think that it was, to be honest, but this could have been, as for what’s actually wrong with this film, Smith isn’t really on of them. In fact, the cast and the script as for the dialogue, is good. It’s just that story is weak, dour, depressingly shot and quite repetitive. For a start it stars Gene Hackman, but it you watch the first hour alone, you would hardly see him!

Smith dominates the film a lawyer who begins by trying to blackmail the mob with an incriminating video, only to be given a week to reveal his source of they will kill him. Meanwhile, a Senator is murdered by Jon Voight who is trying to push a bill through which would give the N.S.A. outright power to use whatever technology they wish to spy on members of the public, creating a true surveillance society.

This is accidentally filmed by a static camera in a bird watching hide by Jason Lee. This video finds its way into Smith’s shopping before Lee is killed. The National Security Agency is now after Smith for the tape, which he has no idea that he has, but as well as trying to retrieve it, they discredit him by using all the information that they can find about him.

They reveal his links to an ex-girlfriend who his has had affair with in the past, who he uses to hire a P.I. called Brill (Gene Hackman). This ruins his marriage for a time, then they frame him for misconduct as a lawyer, resulting in his firing. In the end, he is left with nothing but with the help of Brill, he will no doubt resolve the matter.

The biggest issue with this film isn’t the intelligent script or the acting. It’s the tone, from the cool colour pallet to the monotonous pacing. Things just happen and then more stuff happens. The music , from Trevor Rabin (Armageddon) and Harry Gregson-Williams (almost all of the Scott’s 2000’s films!) was below par, jarring against the action rather than helping it along. Also, the issues of surveillance being abused was tackled better in tone, though this is better in the detail, in Blue Thunder, 14 years earlier in my opinion.

Overall, the ideas were good, not to forget that this was made three years before 9/11, when the issues raised would become very real, but the execution failed to engaging me as it should have, though the dialogue was well composed and delivered with some witty one liner and reasonably engrossing aesthetic.

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