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Will Smith in Enemy of the State
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Enemy of the State

Starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman; Jon Voight
Written by David Marconi
Directed by Tony Scott
Website: www.enemyofthestate.com

IN SHORT: A paranoiad conspirati wet dream. (Rated R. 135 minutes.)

Cranky was thoroughly convinced that producer Jerry Bruckheimer was born deaf, with an attention deficit disorder, 'cuz all of his movies are the noisiest, most insanely frenetic strips of celluloid I've ever suffered through. Which brings us to his latest opus, Enemy of the State, directed by Tony Scott. Scott's tendency to go totally overboard in his work (notably the finale of The Fan, which had Cranky giggling like a kidlet) makes him a perfect match for JB.

To be fair, I pretty much liked The Rock and I pretty much liked Enemy of the State, which is about as close to a quiet drama as Bruckheimer can manage. Timewise, it's way too long with emphasis on elaborate chase scenes. There's not nearly enough sex. There's only one major explosion. In total, Bruckheimer spent his money on a script that uses stars Will Smith and Gene Hackman as actors instead of placeholders and, while I don't for a second buy the totally paranoid fantasy that runs this hood, I had little problem suspending enough belief to buy into it. Hats off to Messrs. Bruckheimer, Scott and company.

We begin with the murder of a Congressman (Jason Robards) who is blocking a bill that would let the government legally surveil the average American citizen. The killing is inadvertently caught on video tape by Daniel Zavitz (Jason Lee), some kind of video researcher. With rogue politicians in its employ, the villain of the flick is a super-secret government agency called the NSA, National Security Administration, led by the spitting image of Jim Phelps, Thomas Brian Reynolds (Jon Voight). His traitorous team's test is to find and recover the videotape, using all the super hi-tech available at the highest levels of super secret government agency. What their machines can do is so patently absurd that, if you get by this early-in-the-film demonstration of image and sound manipulation, you'll have no trouble with the remainder of the flick.

The poor sap who shot the tape is meat, of course. Before he bites the big one, at the end of the first overly long chase sequence, he drops said tape into the bag of old college acquaintance, labor lawyer Robert Clayton Dean (Smith), whom he meets in a lingerie shop. Will Smith let loose amidst a shop filled with models in frilly underwear. Ah, the fun!

Dean lives the life of a most prosperous attorney. One wife, one kid, one affair (long in the past, but that stuff always comes back to haunt movie characters), in short, the fast track to success. Which means he's gonna get seriously derailed.

By the most tenuous of connections, the rogue NSA group comes down hard on the lawyer, skewering his rep in planted newspaper stories, canceling his credit cards, framing him for murder and forging his bank records to make it look as if he's on the payroll of a mobster.

The cast of characters in his world, all of whom are affected by the chase include a paranoid ex-NSA spook Brill (Hackman) and the go-between Rachel Banks (Lisa Bonet) who ensures that these two men never meet. They do, of course, and while the tables are turned, the chase never builds to the levels attained in The Fugitive, there is enough twist to the resolution to have you chuckling long before the whip comes down.

Yep, I finally liked a Bruckheimer flick. Which means this thing is probably doomed . . .

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Enemy of the State, he would have paid . . .


Date flick levels, though this one is definitely for the guys. (Just so's you should know, my gal pal absolutely hated the flick).

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