UK Release date: 26th December 1998
Watched on DVD Sunday 26th August 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
After the untimely death of director Tony Scott this week I thought it would be nice to have a look at a few of his films. I started with this one because I have always found it entertaining and there are some great ideas used to link the action together. I will explain more after this very brief summary.
When labour lawyer Robert Clayton Dean is passed a disc that shows the assassination of a US Congressman his whole life changes. In order to cover up his involvement, one Thomas Brian Reynolds uses the resources of the NSA to track Robert in the hope of recovering the recording. This effects his family and friends, including Rachel Banks, who Dean was using as a liaison between him and a private detective who calls himself Brill. When things go wrong, Dean makes direct contact with Brill, who turns out to be former NSA employee, Edward Lyle. He tells Dean how to avoid detection; but they are closing in and Dean has had enough; it’s time to turn the tables. I will leave it there or the NSA will be bugging me (still).
A very slick production with some great touches; I particularly like the way street cameras and satellite images are used to link certain scenes. A very clever use of the available technology. I know it may have been a little advanced for its day, but its well within the realms of possibility today. As far as performances go, well Will Smith did a decent job as Robert Clayton Dean; the usual wise-cracks, but also some nice acting in-between. Gene Hackman did an excellent job (as ever) as Edward Lyle, as did Jon Voight as the cool calculating bad guy, Thomas Brian Reynolds. Honourable mentions must go to; Lisa Bonet as Rachel Banks, Regina King as Robert’s wife, Carla Dean, Jake Busey and Scott Caan as the heavies Krug and Jones, Gabriel Byrne as Brill and Jack Black as Fiedler.
Quite an enthralling and captivating film. It does take a bit of time to get going but once it does it keeps the pace pretty well until the end. If I have one criticism, it’s that it’s far too long. I enjoy a complex plot as much as the next guy, but this one did take a long time to tie all the various threads together. Over all a film with some very nice touches and some decent performances but I guess it’s one you can’t watch too many times. Even so, worth a look if you either haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it for a while.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED.
My score: 7.5/10
IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 109,067 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 67/100: (Based on 22 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 76/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 346,391 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Robert Clayton Dean: Actually, I believe the term "shyster" is reserved for attorneys of the Jewish persuasion. I believe the proper term for me is "eggplant".
Robert Clayton Dean: Why are they after me?
Brill: You have something they want.
Robert Clayton Dean: I don't have anything.
Brill: Maybe you do and you don't know it.
Krug: [while ransacking the Dean home] Ooh, nice blender!
[takes Robert's blender]
[the NSA team is watching satellite footage of a conversation between Dean and Brill on a rooftop]
Hicks: Can you get a feature scan and pattern matching on him?
Van: No, he's smart, he never looks up.
Jones: Why does he have to look up?
Fiedler: The satellite is 155 miles above the Earth. It can only look straight down.
Jones: That's a bit limited, isn't it?
Van: [Sarcastically] Well, maybe you should design a better one.
Jones: Maybe I will idiot.
Robert Clayton Dean: What the hell is happening?
Brill: I blew up the building.
Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
Brill: Because you made a phone call.
Larry King: How do we draw the line - draw the line between protection of national security, obviously the government's need to obtain intelligence data, and the protection of civil liberties, particularly the sanctity of my home? You've got no right to come into my home!