Monday, December 6, 2010

Enemy of the State. B-

I've often spoken disparagingly of Tony Scott, but the fault may rest in my hands more than his. No, I'm not a huge fan of the movies he makes, but instead of condemning him, I should, as it's Christmas time, take a softer approach and just say that he's very good at what he does. And I guess I've been entertained by the majority of his films, even if some (i.e The Fan) have been entirely dismissible. Enemy of the State is different than most of his work because there's a level of seriousness to it you'd be hard pressed to find in anything between and including Top Gun and Unstoppable. Enemy of the State is a kinetic thriller that's blatantly against government surveillance and the loss of the privacy. It works its ideas into a story where an average man is relentlessly pursued by NSA agents seeking a computer drive containing the only evidence of a murder. The man is a lawyer named Robert Dean (Will Smith), and he's both bewildered and beleaguered because he doesn't know that the evidence is in his possession. The movie seems pretty complicated, but it's actually easy to follow. As long as you don't miss the beginning, where a corrupt politician kills a fellow congressman in order to pass a surveillance bill, you'll have an easy time understanding this long chase. And I mean that last part literally, because, like most Tony Scott pictures, this one looses lots of intelligence by being overly reliant on non-stop action. But I enjoyed myself on the whole and actually liked certain aspects of the movie, such as Will Smith's character (even if Smith doesn't give one of his better performances). So often in movies a working class person suddenly becomes an action hero. In this Smith doesn't act like a hero, but instead he plays it just like a lawyer would in such a situation. And by that I mean almost every decision he makes is plausible. Even though I've cut Scott some slack here, I will end with a complaint that the movie is too long. I found that the Gene Hackman character could have been brought in much earlier and kept this from dragging at the end like it does.

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