By Mike Pearson
Entertainment Editor, Denver Rocky Mountain News
Special to Black Flix
When it comes to thrillers, it matters less whether a movie scares you than whether it leaves you unsettled and on edge. Thrills are momentary; paranoia can last forever.
That unsettled feeling is the chief virtue of Enemy of the State, a largely generic chase yarn that benefits from an omnipresent big brother and a protagonist being relentlessly hunted.
Think The Fugitive with a high-tech sheen.
Will Smith stars as labor lawyer Robert Clayton Dean, a decent, albeit smart-alecky chap who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. A former law school chum ``bumps'' into him in a lingerie store, and next think you know Robert's credit cards are canceled, his house is ransacked, his wife is thumbing through incriminating extramarital photos and - insult of insults! - his clothing has been bugged.
Seems the old chum gave Robert a videotape of a senator being murdered, and the covert agency that arranged it wants it back. Only thing is, Robert has no clue what he's carrying, and even less of an idea why the government seems to want him dead. One thing's for sure: He won't stick around to find out.
At its best, Enemy of the State resonates with tension. We're taken not just by Robert's dilemma (Smith does a serviceable job, while Gene Hackman shines as his cranky partner), but the possibility that much of the hardware seen in the film does exist. If it does, we all should be paranoid. In a landscape littered with cloak-and-dagger clones, Enemy of the State stands out.
Mike Pearson is the Entertainment Editor of the Denver Rocky Mountain News and writes a weekly video column.
'ENEMY' WILL WIN FRIENDS, reprinted with permission from the Denver Rocky Mountain News, originally appeared 06-18-1999 in the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Copyright © 1999, Denver Publishing Co.