Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★★

An utterly '90s conspiracy thriller, from the computer displays, to the frantic editing, to the typefaces. It has a breathless, overcranked quality to many of its scenes, where Tony Scott wrings like three Dutch angles out of a sequence that merits zero. But supplementing all that energy are some brains. Enemy of the State seems to be recklessly sliding from plot to plot in the first half, but it pulls them back together in a clever, quite ridiculous finale.

And obviously, the film is an intriguing artifact just because the fears of technology it presented in 1998 were uncannily prescient. The threat of unchecked totalitarian government surveillance came to be reality in less than a decade. It adds a uniquely hopeless feel to all the many chase scenes - we hear the chatter of the hunters and know how pointless it is to run, when we can see God's own digital bullseye hovering over the people trying to flee! If only Gene Hackman could save us from all the Jon Voights of the world.

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