Enemy of the State (1998)

Directed by Tony Scott
Written by David Marconi
Starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Gabriel Byrne, Regina King

My Advice: Matinee.

Robert Dean (Smith) has it all: loving wife (King), cute kid and a successful law practice.  He runs into an old friend (Jason Lee) in a lingerie store (it's explained, don't worry) and suddenly his life goes right to hell.  It seems that the friend passed him some information that could incriminate a muckity-muck in the NSA (Voight) and that same muck wants it back. And being a muck, he's going to use every tool in his possession to get it.

As far as the cast, Will Smith is in likable Will Smith mode, which works for the part.  Gene Hackman and John Voight are both in bitter government spy mode, and it's not Oscar material, but it's still damn good.  It's always good to see Gabriel Byrne, and his cameo shows us again why.  Tom Sizemore has an uncredited role as a very large Italian fellow.

What elevates this film above your typical paranoiac jaunt is that Scott and Marconi show us both sides of the coin.  On one, you have Will Smith running for his life and on the other you have Voight and a team of fine young actors (Barry Pepper, Loren Dean, Jamie Kennedy and Seth Green to name just a few) going techgeek all out to catch him.  You see the pursuers and all their gadgets, and the film's even smart enough to set up some obvious tricks which don't get used as a plot device later on, which fooled me.  So despite some heavy obvious studio-induced velveeta at the very end, the film holds together well and is intense most of the way through.  An enjoyable escapist thriller.

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