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Parents' Guide to

Enemy of the State

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Late-'90s action movie has frequent profanity, violence.

Movie R 1998 132 minutes
Enemy of the State Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 14+

Chilling-An Effective, Thought Provoking Action Movie

More than 20 years after its release, this well-done movie about government surveillance and weaponization via political affiliation is increasingly poignant. It raises important moral and political questions while not subjectively over-reaching. It is best experienced without summarization. Will Smith and Gene Hackman both give outstanding performances, while Jon Voight and a plethora of character actors round out an intriguing cast. Technically well executed, the story never falters or lulls despite a long runtime. I strongly recommend this film, especially in lieu of the modern big tech censorship and elitist's control of government-run organizations. Profanity, sexual references, and deeply political themes make Enemy of the State best suited for the mature young teen.
age 13+

Educational use here...

This movie came from an era of soft "R" ratings when there was a lot of violence and swearing in movies. As far as todays standards go, this would be considered a "PG-13." It has educational value in its use of communcation technology.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (5 ):

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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