Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★★

"You think we're the enemy of democracy, you and I? I think we're democracy's last hope."

If Crimson Tide is the culmination of Tony Scott's early endeavours in flashy formalism, then Enemy of the State is the prelude to his later experimentation. A 21st century-style conspiracy thriller (made three years before 9/11, scarily), Enemy of the State blends all kinds of surveillance into its filmmaking, from ground level cameras to bird's-eye satellites. Although the technology has since evolved even further - now anyone with an iPhone or a laptop is being monitored - the sentiments driving the story remain prescient. If men in suits knock on your door, there's nowhere to run.

The immediate pace and expressive storytelling are impressive, yet Enemy of the State doesn't quite hit the heights set by Scott's earlier work from the '90s. The screenplay presents solid characters, but doesn't devote as much time to developing them as Crimson Tide did. The ginormous cast is impressive, but also a little overwhelming: Jason Robards, Seth Green, Tom Sizemore and Philip Baker Hall are all uncredited for some reason, and Gabriel Byrne is wasted in an extended cameo. Scott even rips himself off, copying the climax of True Romance verbatim. Having said all that, this endures as an entertaining techno thriller, one which continues to remain horribly relevant in a post-Patriot Act, post-Edward Snowden age of confiscated privacy.

MVP: I like Regina King. I like Lisa Bonet. Plus those beach blonde Aryan-looking agents (Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, Scott Caan) and the nerdy tech guys (Jack Black, Jamie Kennedy) are way more fun than they should be. However, the actual MVP is the cat, Babe. Because I'm a cat person, and I love cats in movies.

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