Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★½

I missed this Will Smith action thriller back in the 90's but I heard good things about it, so let's take a look.

The movie opens with politician Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight) negotiating a new satellite surveillance system with Representative Phillip Hammersley (Jason Robards, Jr.). However, Hammersley doesn't want anything to do with it so Reynolds decides to have him assassinated. Unknown to Reynolds, the murder is captured on tape by accident and the guy who has the tape is tracked and traced by Reynolds team of N.S.A. agents, using state of the art technology. Meanwhile we also meet Robert Clayton Dean (Will Smith), a easy going lawyer who works in Washington D.C. While shopping for Christmas presents, he bumps into the tape maker who is on the run from the N.S.A. agents. He plants the tape on Robert, who doesn't notice it. After this encounter, Robert becomes the target of the ruthless N.S.A. agents and his life begins to fall apart. Only the mysterious "Brill" (Gene Hackman) might be Robert's way out of this mess..

I liked how this movie is paced, from political thriller to high adrenaline action movie. I really liked Gene Hackman's character, he starts as a very bitter and unhelpful person but opens up as his relation with Robert improves. Will Smith was excellent in the action scenes, he really was at his prime as an action hero in the late 90's and it shows in the chase scenes between him and the N.S.A. agents. Jon Voight was also good as the villain, the growing desperation to get the tape which escalates in the final was a nice character arc. The technology used dates the movie but it's cool to see how spying and track and tracing people worked before high speed internet and smartphones where invented. I also loved the ending how Robert managed to trick the whole of Reynolds team.

The story depended a bit to much on things that just where a consequence of being at a certain place. The whole plot around Will Smith's character was a result of him bumping into someone. That's a bit lame, especially because the two character did know each other. And while I praised Jon Voight's character arc, it's also a bit ridiculous to have a politician willing to commit brutal murder just to get a bill through. The scenes with Robert's family where not the highlight of the movie. Scenes like how his son deals with his father completely missing and then turning up again and his wife handles the situation where very wooden and slowed the movie down. Why the N.S.A. agents didn't use his family against Robert is also a mystery to me, since they didn't hesitate to do other evil things.

It's a good spy action thriller with a spectacular finale and great acting from Gene Hackman, Will Smith and lot's of 90's technology

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