jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
Tony Scott’s body of work, in some way, examines the uneasiness of living underneath a microscope in this country – whether it be in the form of a jet or race car or a train – but I think Enemy of the State is his first outright film that’s examining the concepts of paranoia within the country itself. And I think there’s no better filmmaker to do this job: this is an incredibly smooth and crisp work – much like most of his body of incredible, excellent, astonishing work – and I think that Scott taps into something truly unsettling with this film.
This is a totally frantic work, obviously heightened by its themes of paranoia and uncertainty – Scott's work is immersive and experimental like that – and at times, it’s a bit hard to become fully immersed in what Enemy of the State is doing: Scott’s camera really causes the viewer to become just as jumbled as its main character and that’s both a positive – since we’re forced to feel exactly what his character is feeling – and a negative – it can be a disjointing work, a completely affective, disjointing work.
But Scott’s so clearly having a ball flexing on some of his newfound techniques and evolving his skills into the unfairly mixed reception his 2000’s output had received – luckily, those films are gaining a reevaluation and I think if we want to note the switch from the old Tony to the new, we have to point the fingers at this work. Technology becomes a huge aspect of his later work and here, we’re seeing it used as a weapon against the people who create it – the clash between modernity and traditionalism, in the form of the conflicting marriage between Man and Tech is established fully here.
What fascinates me most, not necessarily in a good, positive way is not on the film itself – it acts as a beautiful relic of late 90’s Blockbuster filmmaking, helmed by one of our greatest filmmakers as he combines the great paranoia Thrillers of the 1970’s – but of how relevant this film is, even today. It's funny how modern Tony Scott’s work is, further proving that he’s one of the most misunderstood artists we’ve ever had. What Enemy of the State examines is some sort of truth: noticing a small little bump and picking at it until it becomes totally infected – noticing the little bump of technology in the hands of the government and watch as it’s picked until we’re under their control. This is such a cryptic work. All-star cast.