Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Jason Lee, Barry Pepper, Ian Hart, Jake Busey, Scott Caan
It's not paranoia if they're really after you.
It's not paranoia if they're really after you. Will Smith stars as attorney Robert Clayton Dean, a man at the center of a high-stakes pursuit when he inadvertently comes into possession of secret information implicating corrupt officials within the government. Academy Award-winner Gene Hackman plays a mysterious information broker who comes to Smith's aid in this dynamite thriller.
$20.038 million on 2393 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 139 min.
Release Date: 5/16/2006
• Two Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Enemy of the State” Documentary
• “All Access: The Showdown” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
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Enemy Of The State: Unrated Extended Edition (1998)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 16, 2006)
Another day, another Jerry Bruckheimer movie to review. I've often defended his films, though not so much because I'm a big fan; none of his pictures are very high on my "all-time favorites" list. Instead, I do so due to the fact that his work gets so widely bashed for being dumb and improbable/impossible. In my opinion, those critics miss the point, as Bruckheimer films function as nothing more than an exciting escape. Do these people criticize rollercoasters because the rides never made them think?
Surprisingly, 1998’s Enemy of the State largely avoided these criticisms. In part, this may be due to the fact it came so close on the heels of Armageddon, one of the Bruckheimer foes’ favorite targets. However, the absence of attacks has a lot to do with the fact that Enemy actually offers a thought-provoking scenario: where is the line drawn between the public's right to know and a person's right to privacy?
Usually these discussions focus on issues that relate to public figures. For example, just how much about the president's private life do we deserve to know? Enemy, on the other hand, takes a much creepier view at the subject by demonstrating the ways that technology could be used to infiltrate and destroy a person's life.
This isn't new territory. The Net looked at this a few years earlier. Nonetheless, Enemy succeeds with a style and excitement that previous examinations of this subject lacked. It offers just enough brain fodder to provoke you, but it still keeps its focus where it counts: on the thriller aspects of the tale.
As I've said in the past, Bruckheimer usually knows his strengths and plays to them. If the audiences think the films are stupid, so be it, but don't fault him for doing what he does best. Director Tony Scott enjoyed a decent run with Bruckheimer, especially in the Nineties. His Crimson Tide remains arguably the finest Bruckheimer film to date. Both that film and Enemy share a similar formula: interest the audience with a thought-provoking issue and keep them enthralled with gripping action and tension.
Don't get me wrong: Enemy is probably not one of those movies you'll feel compelled to discuss for hours with friends. At best, you'll probably think, "Oooh! Creepy!" as it ends, and then you'll flip on a ballgame. Still, it does deserve credit for at least attempting to posit something of a social issue, which is more than we get from most films.
Of course, the topic seems all the more interesting given the Bush administration’s desire to spy on everyone. The movie offers many of the same arguments in favor and against this in recent years. Current events have made Enemy seem almost prescient.
Probably the most fault that can be found with Enemy stems from its view of the US government as some sort of organization that can actually pull off a good conspiracy. One of the biggest flaws with theories about the government's alleged cover-ups of Roswell or of the Kennedy assassination stems from the fact that so much ineptness occurs daily in that organization. If they couldn't keep the Watergate break-in a secret, how in the hell have they kept the lid on such hot button issues as those? This all-powerful government makes for fun movie fodder, but it's completely out of touch with the realities of the situation.
Technologically, Enemy seems rather suspect as well. I'm no expert, but I have my doubts about a lot of the methods on display in this film. Do they exist – at least as of 1998 - and could they be used in these ways? Maybe, I guess. Is it likely that we'd reached such a high level of technological sophistication and flawlessness in 1998? Not really.
Still, I have to come back to my original approach: no one said this was a documentary. Enemy is supposed to be an exciting thrill ride of a movie, and it succeeds. It's interesting to note that it can't be called a "whodunit," because we see the culprits right from the outset. The tension in the film completely revolves around discovering how our hero, Robert Dean (Will Smith), will eventually emerge from the villains' clutches. Is there ever any doubt that he will win? Nope. But the fun comes from the ways that he does it. I thought Enemy offered one of the more clever and entertaining conclusions that I've seen from this kind of film.
As would be expected in a Bruckheimer film, production values are topnotch and it includes a very strong cast. The Bruckheimer formula insists that the actors include a number of big stars, and Enemy doesn't falter in that regard. Smith does some of his best work as Dean. He manages to keep the smartass charm racheted down a few notches and creates a believable character. Unlike his roles in Independence Day and Men in Black, he lets himself come across as much more human and fallible here. Gene Hackman also does his usual strong work as the mysterious Brill. Although they don't spend all that much time onscreen together, he and Smith create a nice chemistry between themselves.
(On an unusual cast note, Enemy has to feature more uncredited actors in fairly large roles than I can remember. Tom Sizemore, Jason Robards, and Seth Green are not credited for their parts, even though all are important players. Is this some kind of Hollywood hip thing? Do actors feel more important when they don't get written credit for their work? I don't get it.)
Scott does a competent job in the director's chair. I don’t think much of him as a director overall, but he manages to hold his own and he keeps the movie proceeding at a nice clip. There’s not a lot about Enemy of the State that seems remarkable, but the movie balances issues, action and suspense well enough to keep us interested.
Note that this new 2006 DVD presents an extended edition of Enemy. It runs an extra seven minutes or so compared with the 132-minute theatrical cut. Frankly, I found it hard to tell the difference between the two versions. Even though I just rewatched the original edition a few weeks ago, only a few sequences stood out as new to me.
Contrast that with elongated Con Air, for which I readily could detect the added scenes. Here I noticed a moderately long sequence that shows Dean at the office. We see more bugging and other concerns right before he speaks to his bosses. We also get more of Congressman Albert and his quest to pass the surveillance bill, and we find a little profanity and naughty content absent from the original. For instance, Fiedler talks more explicitly about his sexual fascination with the nanny.
What else? We discover a smidgen more bonding between Brill and Dean. Otherwise, I can’t think of anything that stood out to me as new. I might have missed some sequences, but if that’s the case, they must be pretty minor. My overall impression of the added sequences is that they bring very little to the package. The movie worked fine without them and they don’t contribute anything memorable to the film. The extensions don’t harm the flick, but they don’t make it better either.
The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+
Enemy of the State appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though I found some problems here, at least the transfer of this 2006 DVD greatly improved on the flawed visuals of the original 1999 release.
The biggest improvements related to sharpness and stability. Edge enhancement and strobing plagued the old disc. This one looked much tighter. Some light edge enhancement still appeared, and that factor created a little vague softness in a few shots. Nonetheless, the majority of the flick demonstrated good clarity and definition.
Print flaws were on a par with what I saw on the 1999 DVD. I noticed occasional specks, spots, marks and blotches. While these weren’t dominant, they seemed too heavy for a recent movie. Surprisingly, these didn’t seem to affect the added scenes any more than pieces from the theatrical version. Most of the distractions came from scenes found in the original cut.
The other elements were also similar for both discs. Colors tended to be bold and brilliant, while blacks were deep and tight. Low-light shots offered good clarity and delineation. The light softness at times and the mix of source flaws kept this one on “B”-level, but it remained a mostly satisfying transfer.
While the visuals improved for the new disc, I thought audio stayed the same. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Enemy of the State seemed consistently strong. I expect lively audio from Bruckheimer action extravaganzas, and while Enemy wasn’t as wild as something like Armageddon, it still worked very well. The soundfield used all five channels to good effect. Vehicles dominated the more active pieces, as helicopters, cars and other objects moved about us cleanly. Gunfire and the like also featured prominently, and the mix helped form a nicely three-dimensional impression. Music boasted good stereo imaging as well, and the surrounds displayed a lot of information.
No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was consistently natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other flaws. Music sounded bright and dynamic, and effects followed in the same vein. Those elements appeared clean and accurate, and they boasted very nice bass response. Low-end was smooth and deep. All in all, this was a strong mix.
While the earlier Enemy DVD lacked substantial extras, this one tosses in a few pieces. We begin with two deleted scenes. These include “Jones Gets Bitten” (43 seconds) and “Confrontation at the Limousine Service” (2:07). The first just shows a little more of the break-in at the Dean home, while the second extends Dean’s attempts to settle his problems. “Confrontation” is moderately interesting, but “Bitten” adds nothing.
The Making of Enemy of the State fills 29 minutes and 14 seconds. It offers the standard combination of movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from director Tony Scott, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, tech advisors Steve Uhrig and Marty Kaiser, technical advisor Harry Humphries, Controlled Demolition Inc. president Mark Loizeaux, mechanical effects coordinator Mike Meinardus, and actors Will Smith, Regina King, Gene Hackman, Lisa Bonet, Jake Busey, Jamie Kennedy, Barry Pepper, Jason Lee, and Jon Voight.
“Making” examines modern surveillance technology and its use in the movie, the National Security Agency and its depiction, legal issues, cast, characters, and performances, the relationship between Scott and Bruckheimer, locations, physical challenges, stunts and explosions, and hopes for the movie’s reception.
“Making” is as non-specific as its title. It keeps matters fairly general and doesn’t provide a strong view of the film’s creation. It works better than most features of this sort, but it doesn’t make much of an impact.
Entitled All Access: The Showdown, the next featurette goes for 13 minutes and 20 seconds. This looks at the film’s climax and consists entirely of raw footage from the set. We see cast and crew as they shoot the violent sequence. I enjoy this sort of piece and think this one is interesting to see.
The DVD opens with ads for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Glory Road, Annapolis, Crimson Tide and Grey’s Anatomy. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks domain with a promo for Con Air. We also locate the theatrical trailer for Enemy.
Does this “Special Edition” of Enemy lose anything from the 1999 DVD? Yes. It drops trailers for three other Bruckheimer films. It also excises two terrible “Production Featurettes”. I don’t miss those rotten featurettes at all.
Enemy of the State offers one of the better flicks from the Bruckheimer factory. It presents an intriguing concept that’s gotten even more relevant over time, and it includes more than enough action to maintain our interest. This DVD presents generally positive picture along with excellent audio and some decent supplements.
If you’ve not given Enemy a look, I’d advise you to screen it. Fans who don’t own the prior DVD will definitely want to skip it and pick up this superior release. As for folks who do have the old version, they’ll probably want to upgrade. This one adds some minor extras and presents improved picture quality. It’s a step up from the old one.
To rate this film visit the original review of ENEMY OF THE STATE