There’s almost something narcissistic and solipsistic in assuming you’re the target of a conspiracy. After all, every unsettling piece of evidence that you’re being monitored is further proof that you must matter a great deal to someone. So it’s no wonder that Surveillance State thrillers often star a heroic-everyman type like Will Smith. Here, he plays Georgetown lawyer and family man Robert Dean, who becomes the target of NSA harassment when evidence that a Congressman’s suicide was actually murder is planted among Dean’s possessions.
Director Tony Scott, always in love with shiny gadgets and gizmos, takes a perverse glee in showing how the latest technology is being used to ruin Dean’s life. Fortunately for Dean, he acquires an ally in security expert Edward Lyle (Gene Hackman, giving more than a wink to his own role in The Conversation), who helps him turn the tables. The movie may be typical of Scott’s disposable action fare. Still, what lingers on afterward is the sense of dread that the U.S. government might spy with impunity on any citizen it considers a threat or a suspect.
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