Directed by Tony Scott and written by David Marconi, ‘Enemy of the State’ is an action thriller which follows the story of a group of NSA agents who conspire to kill a Congressman and then try to cover it up after a tape of the murder is discovered. The film stars Will Smith and Gene Hackman, with Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, Gabriel Byrne, Dan Butler, Loren Dean, Jake Busey, Barry Pepper, and Regina King, It is shot by South African cinematographer Dan Mindel and edited by Chris Lebenzon; and the background score is composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and Trevor Rabin.
The film was released on November 20, 1998, and received positive reviews for its narrative structure, the direction and the performances. Several critics have also noted the action-thriller’s similarities with the much-celebrated mystery thriller ‘The Conversation’ (1974), directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
For this article, I have taken into account films that are thematically and stylistically similar to this Tony Scott flick. So, without further ado, here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Enemy of the State’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Enemy of the State’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
9. The Negotiator (1998)
Directed by F. Gary Gray and co-written by James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox, ‘The Negotiator’ follows Lieutenant Danny Roman, a veteran police negotiator who finds himself in peril when he is accused of corruption and murdering one of his own. In a frantic attempt to prove his innocence, he invades a government office and takes hostage of several people, to gain the attention and the time needed to prove his innocence.
The film stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, whose onscreen chemistry define the tone of the movie. ‘The Negotiator’ received positive reviews, with many commending the acting and the memorable dialogues. Roger Ebert best summarized the positives of the film in his review, writing that “The Negotiator is a triumph of style over story, and of acting over characters…Much of the movie simply consists of close-ups of the two of them talking, but it’s not simply dialogue because the actors make it more—invest it with conviction and urgency…” The action thriller won the “Best Action or Adventure Film” at the Saturn Awards.
8. Strange Days (1995)
A science fiction thriller, ‘Strange Days’ follows a former cop-turned-street-hustler who accidentally uncovers a conspiracy in Los Angeles in 1999. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and co-written by James Cameron and Jay Cocks, the film finds its roots in classic science fiction and film noir genres. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis in major roles, ‘Strange Days’ was, unfortunately, a commercial failure, grossing a meagre $8 million against a budget of $42 million. The film received lukewarm reviews from critics at the time of its release. Most critics praised the direction and the performances but were immensely put off by the extreme violence. However, over the years, ‘Strange Days’ has been subject to reevaluation and enjoys a strong cult following.
7. The Parallax View (1974)
Directed by veteran filmmaker Alan J. Pakula and co-written by David Giler and Lorenzo Semple Jr., ‘The Parallax View’ follows Joseph Frady, an ambitious reporter who gets into immense trouble while investigating a senator’s assassination. The investigation leads to dark territories as he uncovers a huge conspiracy which involves a multinational corporation. The film is the second instalment of Pakula’s political trilogy which comprises of ‘Klute’ (1971) and ‘All the President’s Men’ (1976). Though the political thriller is not as highly regarded as the two films, it is quite a good watch. The film holds a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Inside Man (2006)
A heist thriller, ‘Inside Man’ stars Denzel Washington as Detective Keith Frazier, an astute detective, Clive Owen as Dalton Russell, a perceptive bank robber, and Jodie Foster as Madeleine White, high-power broker, who enter into a high-stakes negotiations after Russell’s seemingly brilliant heist completely falls apart and turns into a hostage situation. Directed by Spike Lee and written by Russell Gewirtz, the film is fueled by the powerful performances of the three actors. With a fast-tracked and nifty screenplay, ‘Inside Man’ won immensely positive reviews. The film was also a profitable venture, as it grossed $184.4 million against a budget of $45 million.
5. Three Days of the Condor (1975)
A political thriller, ‘Three Days of the Condor’ follows Joseph Turner, an academic CIA researcher who, after finding out that all his co-workers are dead, has to rise to the occasion to outwit those responsible for it. However, upon doing so, he realizes that there are few he could actually trust. Directed by Sydney Pollack and co-written by Lorenzo Semple Jr. and David Rayfiel, the film is adapted from the thriller novel ‘Six Days of the Condor’, written by American writer and journalist James Grady, which was published in 1974. With an impressive performance by Robert Redford as the protagonist and a neat screenplay, ‘Three Days of the Condor’ won positive reviews and is today regarded as a classic.
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4. Pi (1998)
Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, ‘Pi’ is the story of Maximillian “Max” Cohen, a paranoid mathematician who has a fixation of searching a key number that according to him will unlock the universal patterns found in nature. The film saw the debut of Aronofsky and gives us an insight into the bizarre mind of the maverick filmmaker. The psychological thriller film explores various themes such as religion, mysticism and the undiscovered aura and horror of mathematics. ‘Pi’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won highly positive reviews from critics. The American filmmaker won the award for “Best First Screenplay” at the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the “Directing Award” at the Sundance Film Festival.
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3. JFK (1991)
Directed by Oliver Stone and co-written by Zachary Sklar ‘JFK’ explores the events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and alleged cover-up. The narrative is structured from the perspective of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who along with a team investigates the assassination of the president and uncovers a much darker and deeper conspiracy.
The film stars Kevin Costner as Garrison, Kevin Bacon as Willie O’Keefe, Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw, and Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, in major roles. ‘JFK’ is adapted from two novels, one being ‘On the Trail of the Assassins’ (1988), written by Garrison himself, and the other being ‘Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy’, written by journalist Jim Marrs. ‘JFK’ came under tight scrutiny for changing important historical facts. The political thriller nevertheless became a critical darling and a commercial success. With an overall collection of $205.4 million against a budget of $40 million, the Academy Award-winning film was one of the highest grossing movies of its year.
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2. In the Line of Fire (1993)
A political thriller film, ‘In the Line of Fire’ is the story of Frank Horrigan, who, disillusioned after being unable to save John F. Kennedy, chooses to uncover the details of the assassination and find the killer. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen and written by Jeff Maguire, ‘In the Line of Fire’ stars Clint Eastwood as the protagonist and John Malkovich as Mitch Leary. The movie received positive reviews, with many praising the direction and the performances. With a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘In the Line of Fire’ is a must watch.
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1. Missing (1982)
Directed by Greek-French filmmaker Costa-Gavras and co-written by Donald E. Stewart and Gavras, ‘Missing’ is based on the story of Charles Horman, an American journalist who disappeared after the gory US-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that deposed the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. The film is set in the events that take place after Horman’s disappearance, as his father and wife take it upon themselves to investigate his disappearance. The historical drama premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won the prestigious Palme d’Or. In addition, after its theatrical release, the film won the “Best Adapted Screenplay” at the Academy Awards and British Academy Film Awards. ‘Missing’ was also inducted in National Board of Review’s list of “Top Ten Films”. The film has a rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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