Enemy of the State

Produced and released in 1998 by Touchstone Pictures, budget of $90 million, gross of $122 million, color 35mm negative, Panavision anamorphic 2.35:1 screen ratio, digital sound, 131 mins., Laserdisc released 1999, DVD released 1998.




According to Maitland McDonagh, the film is a "cold-as-ice exploration of paranoia and alienation. A sleek young meritocrat stands in the lobby of a swank hotel, squirming as his credit cards are repeatedly, inexplicably declined: Welcome to the modern-day version of the classic "naked in a public place" nightmare. And for brash labor advocate Robert Dean (Will Smith), the nightmare's real. One moment he has a perfect life -- job, Georgetown house, beautiful wife (Regina King) and son (Jascha Washington) -- the next minute he runs into old school acquaintance Zavitz (Jason Lee), and everything changes. Zavitz has accidentally filmed some men in black murdering a senator (Jason Robards) for high-level NSA muckety-muck Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight). Zavitz surreptitiously drops the evidence into Dean's shopping bag and accepts his business card, leading the NSA to believe the two are in cahoots. They turn their considerable resources to the task of ruining Dean, and suddenly his house has been vandalized and bugged, his phones tapped, his credit destroyed and his credibility (not to mention his marriage) compromised: The local papers get a tip that he's mobbed up and having an affair with ex-galpal Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet), his liaison with a very secretive, very efficient private eye. Even Dean's clothes are wired, and the NSA's army of techno-geeks (cyber slackers who treat the whole business like one big video game) is watching his every move. Enter Dean's last, best hope: Brill (Gene Hackman, clearly reprising his role from Francis Ford Coppola's THE CONVERSATION), a former NSA operative with a bone to pick with the Big Brother society."


revised 7/17/03 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes