Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★★

Nearly twenty years later, the world has changed in the wake of 9/11, the Patriot Act, and Edward Snowden. In that time, Tony Scott's throwback to the post-Watergate paranoid thrillers of the 70s, stands as an under-appreciated, prescient, and handsomely crafted suspense film. An adult-oriented thriller with big ideas about surveillance that's palatable for a mainstream audience. The type of film that Hollywood rarely makes anymore. It represents the platonic ideal of Scott's and Will Smith's middlebrow sensibilities. In this movie, Scott's infuses this film with sharp direction with editing cuts that are precise and camera shots/lighting that are dynamic. Smith is at his best as likably charismatic, it makes it a shame that the films he starred in since have mostly not lived up to his potential.

It's fascinating that the notoriously right-wing factory of Bruckheimer's production studio produced this ACLU wet dream of a movie. Even more fascinating, is how it smartly anticipated the politcal concerns of the early 21st Century in a smart and deftly handled way. You can see Scott's influence on Michael Bay. But Bay has never made a movie as mature as this and the action here is very coherent. Although, it certainly has his lowest common denominator humor. But I must admit the domestic squabbling was pretty amusing and charming.They are relatively quaint by Scott's standards, but he knows how to make them feel very impactful by using very little.

Gene Hackman doesn't show up until an hour into the movie, and it's certainly a late period performance but he never phones it in. He gives the film a certain gravitas. The casting of him gives the film the nice touch of being a defacto sequel to The Conversation. We're catching up with Harry Caul after all those years.

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