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Film: Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State is a 1998 spy-thriller film directed by Tony Scott, written by David Marconi, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and released by Touchstone Pictures. The film stars Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet and Regina King.

A group of rogue operatives from the National Security Agency kill a congressman who would interfere with a bill to expand the government's authority for covert surveillance, but are caught in the act by a wildlife researcher's hidden camera. The NSA finds out about the researcher's tape, and the expanding cloud of coverups, murder and surveillance sucks in Dean (Will Smith), a labor lawyer who unwittingly has the tape passed on to him. The NSA agents proceed to bug Dean's house and belongings, ruin his marriage, and destroy his life to get him to surrender the tape. Soon, the only friend he has is the retired NSA agent "Brill" (Gene Hackman), who's learned how paranoid you have to be in this kind of world...

Enemy of the State contains examples of:

  • Blast Out: Dean manages to basically have the NSA agents who've already captured him and the Mafia goons from the start of the film kill each other.
  • Calling The Cops On The FBI: when Dean needs to enter Rachel's house unseen, he spots the Spies in a Van parked outside. He then calls the city cops and spins a tale about conspicuous men in a van who might be doing drugs. Queue the spies when they hear the call on the police radio:
  • Cameo: Used to good effect (provided you haven't seen the trailer) when Gabriel Byrne briefly appears, pretending to be Brill.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Spy Devices initially used on Dean are turned around against a Congressman and the NSA director, then are once more used against Dean in the finale, but this time as a more comedic event.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Lingerie Dean bought for his wife. When it comes up later in the film it is Played for Laughs, but it hints Dean to the fact that it was at the Lingerie Store where Zavitz dropped the incriminating footage in Dean's shopping bag
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Mafia boys from the beginning of the movie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Reynolds has his moments. One of his underlings mentions in passing that Dean's wife is attached to the ACLU, and he quips:
    Reynolds: Well I suppose [Zavitz] could have given [the tape] directly to Bob Woodward.
  • Engineered Public Confession: It doesn't work.
  • Enhance Button: It can even let them look at things blocked by the camera's view, though it gets a Hand Wave by saying that they are merely looking at extrapolations based on surrounding elements such as shadows, and assumptions, such as them presuming that a shadow might be cast by an object they suspect is blocked from view. Oddly, this technology is not compatible with Spy Satellites.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation along with Enhance Button
  • Fanservice: The Lingerie models, Dean's wife in the lingerie, and Dean himself. All of those examples are justified by the plot.
  • Faking and Entering: Dean pretends to be a deliveryman to enter an hotel room and delay his pursuit.
  • Mexican Standoff: On a grand scale. Apparently played for laughs too when you know both parties are being suckered big time.
  • Mister Muffykins: Dean's wife's stupid little dog, Porsche (which looks just like the one in the photo on that page!) Dean clearly can't stand it (who could?)
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Dean engineers a meeting between the NSA and the mafiosos from the beginning of the movie. Neither party realizes that they're talking about two different tapes.
  • Plot Coupon: The disk with the murder.
  • Properly Paranoid : Brill. Then again, used to be a spook as well. Also see the Tag Line.
  • Psycho for Hire: Krug and Jones, the two ex-military cutouts Reynolds asks for, a pair of dishonorably discharged marines who were jailed for beating up their Gunnery Sergeant. Particularly Jones, who is not sorry about it.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The technicians who work for Reynolds (one of them even seems to take a vacation for the rest of the movie - see 'What Happened to the Mouse?')
  • Revealing Coverup: Dean actually knows nothing about the disk he has, and only starts investigating when the NSA goons start leaning on him.
  • Running Gag: Dean's blender which is stolen by the NSA goons.
  • Spies in a Van: At a certain point, Dean decides to shoot 'em back by calling the cops about "a van in front of my house, possibly trafficking drugs!" Hilarity Ensues.
  • Training Accident: Or at least that was how they planned it to look like.
  • Tropical Epilogue: Brill's character in a video message.
  • The Unfettered: Reynolds, who will do anything he considers necessary to protect his country, and his career. Which includes having people killed (at one point he almost does it himself) His goal here is to create even more of a surveillance society by getting the Privacy Bill passed by Congress, because America is constantly under threat.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Seth Green (the techie who leads the mobile surveillance team) just completely disappears halfway through the film, with no word of explanation. With what he must have known, surely he wasn't someone they'd let zip off somewhere. Did Green suddenly become unavailable halfway through filming?
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: One of the aesops of the film.
    Congressman: We knew that we had to monitor our enemies. We've also come to realize that we need to monitor the people who are monitoring them.
    Carla: Well, who's going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?
  • Wrong Insult Offence:
    Actually, I believe the slur "shyster" is generally reserved for Jewish attorneys. I believe the proper slur for someone like myself would be "eggplant".

Edge of DarknessConspiracy ThrillerGet Blank
The Emperor and the AssassinFilms of the 1990sEver After

alternative title(s): Enemy Of The State
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