Best Movies You’ve Never Seen: THE ENEMY WITHIN

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This is AN HBO movie, released in 1994 and directed by Jonathan Darby. I watched it at the time and enjoyed it, and still have it on tape. I only just today discovered, as I was looking up the film online to get the credits, that it is actually a remake of a 1964 film called Seven Days In May, which was an adaptation of a book written by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II, neither of which I have ever seen or read. But, hence, Knebel and Baily are co-credited as writers for this film, along with Rod Serling, who wrote the screenplay for the first film, and Darryl Ponicsan and Ronald Bass.

This book is set at an unspecified time in the “near future.” Forest Whittaker stars as Marine Colonel Mac Casey, who works in the Pentagon under Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lloyd (Jason Robards), whom he regards as a mentor and father-figure. As the film opens, Mac is dealing with troubles at home, as his young son Todd (played by Ray J), has been acting up, doing bad in school, and even getting caught stealing. Mac thinks it’s partially his fault since he’s always so busy with work, and this puts a strain on his marriage to his wife Jean (Lisa Summerour). But there’s also problems with the nation, as we learn that Iraq and Iran have become allies, and General Lloyd believes that if those nations launch a war against the U.S. , our military will be unprepared because of the actions of the President.

Sam Waterson is President William Foster. He’s currently very unpopular among the military (& the public) because of the Defense budget cuts that he’s implemented in office (it’s not stated whether he’s in his 1st or 2nd term). A bill to increase the budget has passed in congress, but President Foster has indicated that he doesn’t intend to sign it, against the advice of most of his cabinet. But Foster insist that it’s more important to bring down the Federal deficit. Dana Delany plays fosters Chief of Staff, Betsy Cocoran, who is apparently the only loyal member of the President’s cabinet.

Through a series of events, including the discovery of top secret program called Operation: Slam Dunk, which he was strangely not made aware of, despite being under his jurisdiction, and the mysterious sudden death of the Attorney General (Lawrence Pressman), Mac discovers a plot to overthrow the government, involving high rankings members of the military, including General Lloyd, and the President’s cabinet. Mac attempts to alert the President through Betsy, a former Marine whom he knows, and help them uncover and expose the plot before it’s too late, and to keep himself and his family safe from the conspirators, who are ready to kill in order to carry out their plan.

This is a very good political action thriller, with several twists and turns along the way (Mac’s greatest allies turn out to be ex-KGB officers). All of the main cast members are very good in the roles, including Josef Sommer, who plays the Secretary of Defense, who is masterminding the coup with General Lloyd, and William O’Leary who plays an earnest Lieutenant that sides with Mac. I won’t spoil the ending, other than to say that there is a showdown in the Oval Office, where things can go either way. I very much enjoyed this film.

GRADE: A


The Enemy Within (1994)

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