Enemy of the state

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Dir. Tony Scott. Perf. Will Smith, Gene Hackman, and Jon Voight. Touchstone, 1998. Film.


In this film, Robert Dean (Will Smith) unknowingly becomes the owner of sensitive material that belongs to the NSA. The material is a videotape of the NSA murdering a politician in order to ensure new surveillance laws get passed. If passed, these new laws would help the government in their wish to watch over the general public. As the NSA begins to ruin Dean’s life, he decides to take action. Once Dean realizes who he is up against, he enlists the help of an old friend to put him in contact with “Brill.” Dean and “Brill” team up in order to restore the order in Dean’s life as they fight back against the NSA.

The major theme of this film is the idea of “Big Brother.” In the film, the NSA is requesting laws to be passed in order keep a more watchful eye on the public’s actions and personal information. In the movie, the NSA is in constant chase and watch of Dean, his contacts, friends, and family. The NSA uses satellites to monitor Dean’s movements, listen in on phone calls, obtain real time views of streets through security cameras, download structural blueprints, track Dean’s movement, clear Dean’s bank and credit accounts, pull any record they wish, and do anything else imaginable in order to aid their hunt of Dean.

The movie demonstrates to viewers the dangers we are creating by pushing the capacities of technology while also warning us of the destructive capabilities the Internet can have in the wrong hands. With the right tools and appropriate means, cyberspace provides unlimited potential with few regulations. As Laura Gurak explained in her book, it is crucial for us to be active, not passive participants when it comes to cyberspace.