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Touchstone Home Video presents
Enemy Of The State (1998)

"If you live another day, I'll be very impressed."
- Brill (Gene Hackman)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 02, 2000

Stars: Will Smith
Other Stars: Gene Hackman
Director: Tony Scott

MPAA Rating: R for language and violence.
Run Time: 02h:12m:00s
Release Date: June 15, 1999
UPC: 717951001634
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+B+A+ D+

DVD Review

When a series of coincidences leads a college friend to plant a disk containing an incriminating video, Robert Clayton Dean, played by Will Smith, is in for a rude awakening. In a time when we are without true mortal enemies, we begin to search for the enemy within. The National Security Agency (NSA), led by Jon Voight, murder a powerful senator (Jason Robards) because he intends to block legislation that will allow the NSA to completely ignore any American citizen's right to privacy in the name of state security. The cover-up of the murder is botched however, when it is discovered that the whole event has been taped accidentally by a camera setup (a "hide") intended to tape the migratory habits of Canadian geese.

Because Dean is a labor lawyer involved in a heated union vote dispute with the Mafia, he believes it is these mobsters who are tearing down his cushy Georgetown life by destroying his home, sending his wife pictures of him with an ex-lover (Lisa Bonet), and causing him to lose his job by ruining his reputation. It is at this moment when Dean stands naked, both literally and figuratively. It is at this moment that he seeks help from a private investigator named Brill.

This is a fast paced, quick cut editing, heart-pounding thriller, much different from the classic, Academy Award®-nominated The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (which probably would have won a few awards except for that other small Coppola film—The Godfather II,) that it borrows from. That film too starred Gene Hackman, who here plays the role of Brill, who again works from his familiar copper wire mesh cage. It is Brill that shows what happens when you corner a wild animal: the hunter becomes the hunted.

David Marconi, writer, and director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Hunt for Red October), take the original premise and combine it with other great conspiracy films (Three days of the Condor, All the Prseident's Men) into a Jerry Bruckheimer (The Rock, Armageddon, Con Air) 1990's style action picture. While I enjoyed this version far more than I anticipated, please do yourself a favor and watch the The Conversation, which will hopefully soon make it to DVD.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As is typical with all Touchstone/Buena Vista product, this 2.35:1 is not anamorphically enhanced, which is a damn shame. The picture is crisp and clear, with very nice color saturation, with the exception of some orange hued skin color during some indoor scenes. This would really be an exceptional transfer, but the large amount of aliasing distortion and evident scan lines.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: As opposed to the image, this is one of the best sounding discs in a while. This a very loud Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer which takes advantage of all six speakers, and for most of the film. From rain falling in the rear surrounds, to the ever-present interlude of full surround satellite transmissions which adds to the inherent paranoia, the soundstage is full and the motion sweeps, pushes and pulls along with the on-screen action. Excellent!

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Buena Vista must not desire to push this disc to the top of the all-time bestsellers' list, because they simply refuse to add true special content to their discs. Besides the chapter selection, there is also a French language track, closed captioning for the hearing impaired, film recommendations, the original theatrical trailer, trailers for the three aforementioned non-anamorphically enhanced Bruckheimer flicks/DVDs, and two production featurettes which are more like extended commercials with interview snippets. I would have enjoyed both an extended making-of feature, and even more so director's and actors' commentary.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

This is a fun, exciting film, which sounds great, but lacks the enhancement and extras that make it a must buy. Rent it, enjoy it, but please don't send Buena Vista the wrong message; wait until they begin supporting anamorphic enhancement and adding extras to more than just the occasional Miramax disc.


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