The late Tony Scott made a lot of great movies but 1998’s Enemy Of The State might just be his best (at the very least it’s up there with Spy Game and Man On Fire). It’s a paranoia/conspiracy thriller which still packs a punch over 20 years after it was first released.
Movies In Focus constantly writes about how ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’, but they really don’t make big budget thrillers like Enemy Of The State anymore. Tony Scott was at the peak of his powers, Will Smith was the biggest star on the planet and Jerry Bruckheimer was on a serious hot streak. Throw-in the likes of Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Gabriel Byrne and Jason Robards and you have movie gold. Even the young supporting cast was stellar, with many going on to break-out after the film’s release: Jason Lee, Scott Caan, Jack Black, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper and Regina King.
Credit must also go to composer Harry Gregson-Williams, cinematographer Dan Mindel and editors Chris Lebenzon Paul Rubell for helping deliver some serious kinetic energy. It was written by David Marconi, Aaron Sorkin, Henry Bean & Tony Gilroy – that’s a serious bunch of writers.
This techno thriller mirrored a world in flux, one where digital technology was beginning to take over. However, the themes in Enemy Of The State are as important today as they were in 1998 – more so, even. The film was a semi-riff/continuation of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, which also starred Hackman (as ‘The Best Bugger in the Business)’, and that’s one of the things that makes it so good. It’s a 70s-style paranoia thriller updated to the digital age.
Enemy Of The State opened in the US on 20 November 1998. It grossed $20 million on its first weekend, scoring $139 million domestically and ending its run with a global take of more than $250 million. That’s an impressive sum for the tail end of the last century.
It opened in the UK on 26 December 1998 and I caught the movie on 28 December or there abouts. I revisit it every year or so and it never fails to entertain.
It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you!