Enemy of the State (film)
|Enemy of the State|
|Directed by||Tony Scott|
|Written by||David Marconi|
|Produced by||Jerry Bruckheimer|
|Edited by||Chris Lebenzon|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$250.8 million|
Enemy of the State is a 1998 American political action thriller film directed by Tony Scott, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by David Marconi. The film stars Will Smith and Gene Hackman and features an ensemble supporting cast consisting of Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Gabriel Byrne, Dan Butler, Loren Dean, Jack Black, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, and Regina King. The film tells the story of a group of corrupt National Security Agency (NSA) agents conspiring to kill a congressman and the cover-up that ensues after a tape of the murder ends up in the possession of an unsuspecting lawyer.
The film was released on November 20, 1998 in the U.S. and worldwide by Buena Vista Pictures through its adult film label Touchstone Pictures. Enemy of the State garnered positive reviews from film critics and audiences, with many praising the writing and direction as well as the chemistry between Smith and Hackman.
NSA official Thomas Brian Reynolds meets with Congressman Phil Hammersley to discuss a new piece of counterterrorism legislation that dramatically expands the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies over individuals and groups. Hammersley remains committed to blocking its passage, wanting to protect U.S. citizens' privacy. Reynolds, wanting the bill passed to obtain a long-delayed promotion, has Hammersley murdered, making it appear he suffered a heart attack. Meanwhile, labor lawyer Robert Clayton "Bobby" Dean is involved in a case involving mobster Paulie Pintero. Bobby meets with his ex-girlfriend, Rachel Banks; Rachel works for "Brill," who Bobby sometimes uses for undercover surveillance but has never met in person. She delivers a tape incriminating Pintero for labor racketeering, which Bobby threatens him with.
As police investigate Hammersley's murder scene, Reynolds and his team notice a biologist swapping out a tape from a remote wildlife camera stationed across the lake. They identify the biologist as Daniel Zavitz. When Zavitz views footage of the murder, he immediately contacts a journalist to publicize the tape. Reynolds' team intercepts the call and rush to Zavitz's apartment. Zavitz transfers the video to a disc and hides it in an electronic game console before fleeing. He bumps into Bobby, his old college friend. Panicked, Zavitz slips the disc into Bobby's shopping bag without his knowledge. He runs into the path of an oncoming fire truck and is killed instantly, while Reynolds has the journalist murdered.
Reynolds' team identify Bobby and visit him disguised as cops. When Bobby refuses to let them search his belongings, they later plant surveillance devices in his house and on his clothes. They also manufacture false evidence that Bobby is secretly on Pintero's payroll and is having an affair with Rachel. The subterfuge destroys Bobby's life: he is fired, his bank accounts are frozen, and his wife, Carla, throws him out. Bobby asks Rachel to contact Brill for help. Reynolds intercepts the call and sends one of his men to impersonate Brill. The real Brill rescues Bobby and warns him that the NSA is responsible for ruining his life. After Bobby manages to evade his team, he is horrified to find Rachel shot dead in her home.
Bobby finds the disc and shows it to Brill, who identifies Reynolds. The NSA agents raid Brill's hideout; Brill and Bobby escape but the disc is destroyed. Brill reveals that his real name is Edward Lyle, a former NSA communications expert stationed in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. His partner (Rachel's father) was killed, but Lyle escaped and has been working covertly ever since, employing Rachel as a courier to watch over her. Lyle urges Bobby to start a new life, but he insists on clearing his name. Bobby and Lyle trail Congressman Sam Albert, a key supporter of the bill, and record a videotape of him with his mistress. Bobby and Lyle hide an NSA listening device in Albert's hotel room, knowing that he'll find it and then demand an internal investigation. Lyle then hacks into Reynolds' personal bank account and deposits large sums of money to make it look like he's being paid to blackmail Albert.
A meeting is arranged with Reynolds to exchange the video and to get Reynolds to incriminate himself. Reynolds' men instead ambush the meeting and hold Lyle and Bobby at gunpoint, demanding the tape. Bobby, anticipating this, lies and says that the evidence is hidden at Pintero's restaurant, which is currently under FBI surveillance. He then tricks Pintero and Reynolds into believing that the other man has the "tape". The encounter quickly escalates into a deadly close-quarters firefight when a gangster shoots an NSA agent in the back; Pintero, his men, Reynolds, and the agents are all killed. During this ordeal, Lyle sends the FBI a live feed of the incident to trigger a raid on the restaurant before slipping out in disguise. Bobby is rescued, and the conspiracy is exposed.
Congress abandons the bill to avoid a national scandal, covering up the NSA's involvement to preserve the agency's reputation. Bobby is cleared of all charges and reconciles with Carla. Lyle sends Bobby a "farewell" message via his TV, partially showing himself relaxing on a tropical island with his cat, Babe.
- Will Smith as Robert Clayton "Bobby" Dean
- Gene Hackman as Edward "Brill" Lyle
- Jon Voight as NSA Department Head Thomas Brian Reynolds
- Regina King as Carla Dean
- Loren Dean as NSA Agent Loren Hicks, Reynold's Aide-de-camp
- Jake Busey as Krug, ex-USMC hired by NSA
- Barry Pepper as NSA Agent David Pratt
- Jason Lee as Daniel Leon Zavitz
- Gabriel Byrne as NSA Agent "Fake Brill"
- Lisa Bonet as Rachel Banks
- Jack Black as NSA Agent Fiedler
- Jamie Kennedy as NSA Agent Jamie Williams
- Scott Caan as Jones, ex-USMC hired by NSA
- James LeGros as Jerry Miller, Attorney
- Stuart Wilson as Congressman Sam Albert
- Ian Hart as NSA Agent John Bingham
- Jascha Washington as Eric Dean
- Anna Gunn as Emily Reynolds
- Grant Heslov as Lenny Bloom
- Bodhi Elfman as NSA Agent Van
- Dan Butler as NSA Director Admiral Shaffer
- Jason Robards as Congressman Phillip Hammersley
- Seth Green as NSA Agent Selby
- Tom Sizemore as Paulie Pintero, Mob Boss
- Philip Baker Hall as Mark Silverberg, Attorney
- Brian Markinson as Brian Blake, Attorney
- Larry King as Himself
The story is set in both Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and most of the filming was done in Baltimore. Location shooting began on a ferry in Fell's Point. In mid-January, the company moved to Los Angeles to complete production in April 1998. The writers Aaron Sorkin, Henry Bean and Tony Gilroy each performed an uncredited rewrite of the script.
Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise were considered for the part that went to Will Smith, who took the role largely because he wanted to work with Hackman, and had previously enjoyed working with the producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Bad Boys. George Clooney was also considered for a role in the film. Sean Connery was considered for the role that went to Hackman. The film is notable for having cast several soon-to-be stars in smaller supporting roles, which casting director Victoria Thomas credited to people's interest in working with Gene Hackman.
The film's crew included a technical surveillance counter-measures consultant who also had a minor role as a spy shop merchant. Hackman had previously acted in a similar thriller about spying and surveillance, The Conversation (1974). The photo in Edward Lyle's NSA file is of Hackman in The Conversation.
Enemy of the State grossed $111.5 million in the United States and $139.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $250.8 million, against a production budget of $90 million.
The film opened at #2, behind The Rugrats Movie, grossing $20 million over its first weekend at 2,393 theaters, averaging $8,374 per venue. It made $18.1 million in its second weekend and $9.7 million in its third, finishing third place both times.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 6.44/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "An entertaining, topical thriller that finds director Tony Scott on solid form and Will Smith confirming his action headliner status." Metacritic assigned the film a normalized score of 67 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of A− on an A+ to F scale.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times expressed enjoyment in the movie, noting how its "pizazz [overcame] occasional lapses in moment-to-moment plausibility". Janet Maslin of The New York Times approved of the film's action-packed sequences, but cited how it was similar in manner to the rest of the members of "Simpson's and Bruckheimer's school of empty but sensation-packed filming. In a combination of the two's views, Edvins Beitiks of the San Francisco Examiner praised many of the movie's development aspects, but criticized the overall concept that drove the film from the beginning — the efficiency of government intelligence — as unrealistic. Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times felt "the climax edges perilously close to the ridiculous" but overall enjoyed the film, particularly Voight and Hackman's performances.
Possible television series
In October 2016, ABC announced it had green-lit a television series sequel to the film, with Bruckheimer to return as producer. The series would take place two decades after the original film, where "an elusive NSA spy is charged with leaking classified intelligence, an idealistic female attorney must partner with a hawkish FBI agent to stop a global conspiracy". However, nothing ever came to fruition.
This section needs to be updated.(June 2013)
An episode of PBS' Nova titled "Spy Factory" reported that the film's portrayal of the NSA's capabilities was fiction: although the agency can intercept transmissions, connecting the dots is difficult. However, in 2001, the then-NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, who was appointed to the position during the release of the film, told CNN's Kyra Phillips that "I made the judgment that we couldn't survive with the popular impression of this agency being formed by the last Will Smith movie." James Risen wrote in his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration that Hayden "was appalled" by the film's depiction of the NSA, and sought to counter it with a PR campaign on behalf of the agency.
Given the events of 9/11, the Patriot Act and Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, the film has become noteworthy for being ahead of its time regarding issues of national security and privacy.
In June 2013, the NSA's PRISM and Boundless Informant programs for domestic and international surveillance were uncovered by The Guardian and The Washington Post as the result of information provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. This information revealed capabilities such as collection of Internet browsing, e-mail and telephone data of not only many Americans, but citizens of other nations as well. The Guardian's John Patterson argued that Hollywood depictions of NSA surveillance, including Enemy of the State and Echelon Conspiracy, had "softened" up the American public to "the notion that our spending habits, our location, our every movement and conversation, are visible to others whose motives we cannot know".
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