A lawyer is targeted by the N.S.A. and has his life systematically
destroyed after he is given evidence of a political murder.
Enemy of the State (1998)
Directed by Tony Scott
Written by David Marconi
Starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King,
Lisa Bonet, Barry Pepper, Jake Busey, Stuart Wilson, Jack Black, Scott Caan, Loren Dean, Jason Lee, Gabriel Byrne
I'm not really a fan of political thrillers. I find them, on the whole, confusing and monotonous. But Enemy of the State was an entertaining film, thanks mostly to Will Smith and Gene Hackman. The plot is fairly easy to follow, even if it does get conveniently wrapped in a big bow by the film's end. But that's almost always the case with films like this. Regardless, I did find myself drawn into and I enjoyed the performances. And the subject matter is topical even today. How far is the government willing to go to silence a whistleblower? Also, are you willing to sacrifice privacy for security?
Smith plays Robert Dean, a lawyer who is accidentally given a tape containing hard evidence of a political murder. Once corrupt politican Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight) learns that Dean has the tape, he tries to have his credibility destroyed by pulling apart the fabric of his life, starting with his career and his family. Dean has no idea why this is happening, as he never found the tape. But with the help of ex-N.S.A. spook Edward Lyle (Hackman), he hopes to clear his name and pull back the curtain on Reynolds's misdeeds. The film does a good job of making you root for Dean and Lyle, and the final pull of the rug is nothing short of satisfying.
Enemy of the State isn't Will Smith's most memorable 90's outing, but it's a far cry from his worst and it could use a second look, especially in the modern age where privacy is all but dead. For a political espionage thriller, it's not half bad and is actually quite an enjoyable thrill ride.