Enemy of the State (1998)
June 12, 2019 1:31 PM - Subscribe

A group of NSA agents headed by Jon Voight conspires to kill a Congressman and to cover it up after a tape of the murder is discovered. Gene Hackman plays Brill, as a "continuation of The Conversation" from 1974. Jason Lee plays Daniel Zavitz. Jack Black plays Fiedler. Tom Sizemore plays mob boss Pintero. One of Tony Scott's 10 best films. The film inspired the US military to develop the WAMI hyper-surveillance technology.
posted by growabrain (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Enemy of the State is definitely one of Jerry Bruckheimer's and Tony Scott's hyperactive movies from the nineties where things just keep moving. It's also one of those movies where the main character and those around him are too naive for their own good. The one guy who is genre savvy is very much so. It has a lot of moving parts that dont all work, but thanks to the forward motion, it's easy to not linger on one's confusion.

The Conversation is the better movie for those interested in surveillance and the paranoia caused by living in a world where others are watching.
posted by Fukiyama at 3:48 PM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

One of the only (if not THE only) Bruckheimer films I genuinely like. It looks cool with that now-dated (but still cool) skip bleaching color scheme, and it does the paranoia well. Plus Will Smith is always worth watching.

The frenetic camerawork is not my favorite thing and makes it hard to follow the action sometimes (but also keeps you from paying too much attention to plot holes).

But I'm a huge fan of The Conversation and Gene Hackman so...
posted by biscotti at 5:06 PM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Shout out to Smith's blender, providing soothing blended goodness to a stressed out man.
posted by rewil at 6:46 PM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

How much of the depicted surveillance was possible in 1998?
posted by Bodechack at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2019

I see a relationship between this movie to The Conversation and Sneakers (1992) to The Three Days of the Condor (1975). Each pair deals with similar themes (the surveillance state and the CIA/spying), telling complimentary stories. Each pair stars someone from the earlier movie playing someone who could be an older version of their earlier character (Gene Hackman as Harry Caul/Brill and Robert Redford as Joe Turner/Martin Bishop). Each pair flips the coasts from the earlier movie (SF to DC and NYC to SF).

The newer movies aren't remakes, more like filing the serial numbers off the earlier movie and bringing it into the present, which is better in this case, because we have 4 great movies.
posted by kokaku at 4:32 PM on June 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

One thing this film got incredibly right is the videogamer mentality of the surveillance state we have today. The low-level operatives calmly compute and relay stats like they’re in WoW, racking up collateral cheevos and sharing congrats for minor tactical victories like they’re boss fights, unable to even comprehend the reality of their actions or how they were acting immoral when [minor spoiler] that particular program is eventually shut down.

If it had been only a financial-crisis pre-drone work, it would have been surprisingly accurate in its predictions; for a dot-com pre-9/11 work, Enemy of the State is like an eerie prophecy.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:49 PM on June 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

kokaku, I never thought about the relationship between Sneakers and Three Days of the Condor as analogous to the relationship between The Conversation and Enemy of the State, but thank you for the excuse to re-watch both of them.

I've always associated this movie strongly with The Siege. They both came out the same year, but they were also near-future dystopias about overreach of the surveillance/security state. And sure, maybe they seemed a tiny bit paranoid, but then we paid attention the news for the next 20 years.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:43 PM on June 18, 2019

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