Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State ★★★

“The government’s been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the ’40’s. They’ve infected everything. They can get into your bank statements, computer files, email, listen to your phone calls. The more technology you use, the easier it is for them to keep tabs on you.” – Gene Hackman’s character Brill

Will Smith’s lawyer/action figure gets chased around D.C. by NSA bureaucrats in Tony Scott’s cranked-up hyperkinetic thriller Enemy of the State, taking swipes at watchdog government surveillance that becomes overlord on our privacy. Smith unwittingly has sensitive material that Jon Voight wants; Voight has round eyeglasses and a slick back haircut that makes him look like former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, except his Thomas Brian Reynolds is probably 100 times more the a**hole than McNamara ever was.

But here’s the paramount question of the day: Is Hackman’s Brill the same Harry Caul character from 1974’s “The Conversation?” The NSA pulls up a records photo of Caul from the Francis Ford Coppola film. But based on Loren Dean’s analyst scene reciting Brill’s history at the 97-minute mark, and in conjunction that Brill is much more rabid, I don’t think the history adds up to make him the same guy; Brill is a character invention simply inspired by. Just like a Mount Vernon Square surveillance tracking scene between Smith and Lisa Bonet is lifted directly from the opening of “The Conversation” as an inspired by re-invention.

A motley number of syndicates and organizations collide, desiring varied objectives, in the very convoluted plotting of Enemy while Scott fiercely jackhammers through it all with a series of quite cool or semi-cool foot chases and car chases. Scott also got a rise out of me after covert agents appallingly wreck and desecrate Smith’s house. In the midst, the writing here and there is speckled with prescient writing on privacy invasion by David Marconi (he would later infuse more tech minutiae in the story treatment for “Live Free and Die Hard”). Among the big who’s who cast are Tom Sizemore, Barry Pepper, Jack Black, Jamie Kennedy, Jake Busey, Scott Caan, Seth Green, James LeGros, Philip Baker Hall, Gabriel Byrne, Jason Lee, Jason Robards and Regina King.

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