Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★★

A remarkably prescient action thriller from Tony Scott, predicting the horrific abuses of authority and overreach by the NSA in terms of domestic surveillance - albeit heightened to silly levels for entertainment purposes. Will Smith is labour lawyer Robert Dean, accidentally swept up in a conspiracy involving the murder of a congressman when evidence is slipped into his shopping bag. Soon, the NSA is on his tail - from Jon Voight’s slimy special advisor, to Jake Busey and Scott Caan’s thugs, to Jack Black and Seth Green’s tech guys - and only a former NSA operative living off the grid (Gene Hackman) can help him. It cultivates an enjoyably paranoid tone that gives its sustained action sequences - a hotel escape, a train yard chase - real thrills, while the social criticism serves to elevate the silly plot instead of muddying the affair. Enemy of the State isn’t as smart as, say, Hackman’s earlier paranoid thriller The Conversation, but is certainly better executed than its own successors, like Eagle Eye.

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