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Movie Review

Enemy of the State

MPAA Rating: R for language and violence

Reviewed by: Dave Rettig

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Year of Release:

Starring: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Regina King, Stuart Wilson / Director: Tony Scott

A chance meeting, a mysterious death, and a missing video are the beginning of the end of Robert Dean’s perfect life. A labor lawyer with a major law firm, Dean’s professional reputation is destroyed, his name maligned, his family life shattered in one fell swoop. The enemy is everywhere. Every detail of his life is under scrutiny. Everyone to whom Dean turns has become his enemy. Robert Dean has become an “Enemy of the State.” “It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you.”

Will Smith and Gene Hackman make an exceptionally strong acting duo. Hackman’s experience perfectly complements Smith’s energy and is suggestive of Smith and Jones in “Men In Black.” The general story is reminiscent of “Chain Reaction,” “Sneakers”, “Project X”, “Conspiracy Theory”, “Mission Impossible” or any of the dozens of films about a lone wolf against some government organization. Although there were not a lot of surprises (I cannot imagine anyone not knowing where the tape was hidden), “Enemy of the State” does a fair job of creating anticipation and balances enough action to movie the story along at a quick pace.

“Enemy of the State” is rated R for profanity and violence. The profanity is intense, and the violence is extreme, with an ending scene looking like something out of a Quentin Tarantino film. Also be warned: there are a number of scenes involving scantily dressed women. There are quite a few sexual references, which (as always) were unnecessary and inappropriate for young audiences.

Aside from the previously mentioned moral depravity, I was impressed with the idea of the sheer amount of violence, hatred, and sin filling this world. God needs no network of satellites to see all this. I wonder when again the Lord will see “…how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the Earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Gen 6:5-6). Let us pray we no longer grieve our God and pray that He disciplines us out of love (Rev 3:19) and not in His wrath (Ps 6:1, 38:1).

“Enemy of the State”, although a high quality film, has too much violence, language, and sexuality to give a positive rating. If you want to see one man against the powers of this world, see the “Jesus” film.

Viewer Comments
I am in an interesting position as I saw this movie in an airplane and it was cleaned up greatly (for the families). I have never seen the R-rated version so don’t know what I was missing (thank goodness, it sounds like) :) I also (with my wife) follow a personal conviction of not watching R-rated movies. Having said this, WOW, WHAT A MOVIE! I work in the computer industry and was at the edge of my seat most of the movie (as were most of the other passengers on the plane I was on). The special effects were awesome, the technical wizardry (except for the PCMCIA incident) was great (especially the satellite shooting), and Will Smith was at his best. It sure convinced me that Hollywood does not need the sex, violence, and profanity of the R-rating to keep an audience coming.Too bad it is R, because I will probably have to find another plane flight before I can see it again ;)
—Brent Carey, age 36
The numerous commentary was adequate to describe many of the usual objectionables in an R rated movie. The movie however portrayed powerfully the vulnerability our personal rights and freedoms face as a result of the ever intrusive capabilities of technology in our society.
—Glenn Holland, age 43
Intense action film with the now standard Touchstone (a/k/a Disney) opening which takes God’s name in vain twice and uses Jesus' name as an expletive all within the first five minutes. If the profanity had been left out, it would have been a good action movie for adults.
—Sid and Brenda Owens, age 52
Just went to watch Enemy of the State with my boyfriend and I’m impressed by the directing of the movie. I believe some of the violence scene might have been censored (by the Singapore authority) but I was really upset over the a lingerie store scene.
—Cathy, age 22
The only redeeming message in the entire movie was that Will Smith’s character had a deep love for his family (and that was probably strengthened by a recent failed affair). On the conspiracy side of things, probably everything in the movie was realistic (possible). With the exception of the “video” getting ruined by the fire. It was a digital video that was compressed into a PCMCIA card of some sorts. The storage in those cards (it could’ve been RAM or ROM) are in chips inside the package. What was seen in the movie was that the outer package was slightly seared, but I’m sure a careful technician could’ve removed the chips and installed them in a second PCMCIA board and package. Alas, I wasn’t on the consultant staff.
—Tim Emmerich
Other than the extreme use of the “F-word”, Enemy of the State was suprisingly well done. All of the element in the movie are explained well enough that even the non-genius can figure out what is going on. This movie’s genre was comparable to the movie “Conspiracy Theory,” yet introduces a lot of new ideas. This two-and-a-half hour movie was well worth my $5.50.
—Brian Pedigo, age 19
This was a great movie. Will Smith’s best yet. The profanity was high (no not any where near a Tarantino film). There were several shots of females in lingerie and sexual references were made. There is also a medium range of violence. These three factors gave the R-rating. Great entertainment. The plot was very well pieced together. The cinematography was excellent. The action was continous until the credits.
—Jeremy Sarver, age 20
…[Enemy of the State] contains a lot of unnecessary profanity and does have one scene which has Will Smith in a lingerie store where all the sales women are dressed in the products they are selling. From a movie-making standpoint, I thought the film was written extremely well. Every thing comes full circle at the end and is wrapped up nicely. The special effects are good and the imaginations of the writers keeps the audience on the edge of their seats through the entire picture. The movie challenges us to wonder how long the governments nose really is. I expected a little more from the actors but I wasn’t disappointed. Normally Will Smith gets a few more one-liners but he did have his moments. Keep in mind that there aren’t a lot of edify moments for Christians, but the movie is entertaining. If you enjoy action and conspiracy this is a great movie to see.
—Rick Oie