The Real “Enemy of the State”

I loved Enemy of the State.  Right from the start, putting Will Smith and Gene Hackman into the same movie has marvelous effects, and it really paid off.  I’m a huge Will Smith fan (After Earth not included) so it was fun to see him in one of his earlier roles.  The whole movie is a criticism of government surveillance and the power of the National Security Administration, or NSA.  It all starts when Will Smith, an unsuspecting labor lawyer, is unknowingly given top secret information that concerns members of the NSA.  What follows is a high-tech goose chase as Will Smith attempts to uncover what it is the NSA wants from him while trying not to die and lose everything great about his life.  The focus of my essay will obviously be on the film’s representation of surveillance and how intrusive and destructive it’s made out to be.

My thesis statement will  look something like this:

In Enemy of the State, federal surveillance is presented as intrusive and destructive.  The film suggests that the technology used by the government is so advanced that, if left unmonitored, it would be possible and even likely that this technology could be used against citizens of the United States.

So, my first topic sentence might address some of the camera shots and tendencies of the film.  An example of said topic sentence might be: Surveillance footage is used many times throughout the film as a way to transition from one scene to another, but also to visualize the scope of available resources the government has and the constant stream of information that it receives.  I would then go on to discuss the way they represent surveillance footage in the movie, how and when it’s used, and what the effect and message of this footage is on the viewer.

A second topic sentence for my paper might address examples of how the film suggests that this surveillance is invasive and unconstitutional.  Example: The director persuades the viewer to root against the federal government and the NSA by constantly providing illegal and immoral actions that the NSA commits throughout the movie.  I know this is pretty broad, so I might break this up into smaller, more focused paragraphs.  But I have a ton of information to work with on this one: the way the government murders innocent Rachel Banks, how they break into Will Smith’s house and bug all his stuff, how they murder a senator, the way they shoot Gene Hackman in the hand (not his dominant hand!)… but there’s a lot to work with for this one.

A final topic sentence could address how the director suggests that the federal government needs to be monitored to ensure they don’t abuse this surveillance technology.  Something like: By constantly providing examples of different ways they can abuse technology, the director suggests that entities like the NSA need to be supervised and held accountable so federal members don’t use such surveillance for their own personal gain.  Here I could include description of Thomas Reynolds, the evil NSA agent that kills a senator and how he is able to assemble a private team of investigators and tech nerds to do his bidding.

Oh, and here’s an awesome picture of Will Smith from the movie.

Man is he cool.

That’s about it for this post.  But seriously, if you haven’t seen Enemy of the State, watch it!  Thoroughly enjoyable and a great ending that I didn’t see coming… I liked it.  Two thumbs up.

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