A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While the movie is filled with messages on the scope and reach of surveillance in our society, the primary focus is the action itself.
Positive Role Models
While an argument could be made that at least two of these characters are resisting the intrusiveness of the surveillance society as manifested by the NSA, these characters are also action-movie archetypes straight out of the Jerry Bruckheimer school of late '90s formulaic blockbuster movies.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent action-movie violence. A man on a bike is shown being killed by riding in front of a fire truck. During the opening credits, a series of car crashes are shown overhead. A woman is found dead in her bathroom from an apparent suicide. Frequent explosions and gunfire. A man gets shot in the head. Characters shoot at each other from point-blank range, resulting in numerous deaths.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A Congressman is spied on in his hotel room receiving oral sex from a woman; while no body parts are shown, the motions and gestures make it obvious what is happening. After being asked questions about an extramarital affair he has had by his employers, the lead character asks one of them if he masturbates in the shower. During a scene in a lingerie store, a female employee dressed in lingerie asks the lead character for the breast size of his wife. His wife is later shown in the lingerie as they begin to flirt in a provocative manner. When the lead character and his wife make insinuations about having sex, their young son asks, "Are you guys talking about sex?"
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Frequent profanity. The f-word is used on a regular basis. Members of the mafia refer to an African-American lawyer as an "eggplant." Italian-Americans are referred to as "guidos."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Pills are placed around a politician's head to look like a suicide after he is murdered.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Enemy of the State is a 1998 action movie with frequent profanity, action-style violence, and sexual content, including references to oral sex and infidelity. While the movie does show the machinations of a pre-9/11 government agency determined to a ruin the life and credibility of a man in possession of filmed evidence of spies killing a Congressman, the primary focus is on the nonstop action. There are also racial slurs: an African-American lawyer is referred to as an "eggplant," and Italian-American mobsters are called "guidos." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It isn't a bad action movie, but it does adhere to the typical action movie structure, despite the messages and debate about a very important topic throughout the movie. The blockbuster production values firmly place this film in the late '90s, but the acting from Will Smith, Jon Voight, Gene Hackman, and the rest of the mostly all-star cast keeps the action sequences from veering into action-movie cliches.
ENEMY OF THE STATE attempts to be both an action movie in the typical bombastic overblown Jerry Bruckheimer style of the late 1990s, as well as a movie conveying a message on the depth and breadth of the surveillance state and the damage it can inflict on American citizens believed to be "national security threats." While it does an effective job of debating the pros and cons of expanded surveillance (and this is three years before 9/11), and shows the extent top-secret government agencies can infiltrate one's privacy, it's still a slightly dated action movie. Overall, though, it should inspire active discussion from mature teens.
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Our Editors Recommend
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