Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Brian De Palma never makes boring movies. Bad ones, yes, but not dull. Snake Eyes has a nickel-and-dime storyline that doesn't transfer into a $100 mystery. Energy and style and Nicolas Cage at full throttle almost excuse the banality of a been-there plot.

Cage's character, Rick Santoro, is unusual for a modern movie hero, being a thoroughly corrupt Atlantic City detective, who revels in the filth of it. "I was made for this sewer, baby," he exclaims. "I am the king!" Not quite. He wants to be mayor. He wants to be on TV. He wants to live with rat piss and control the power.

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Cage lets rip, which can be scary, because you never know when he's going to vomit rage, or break the furniture. Santoro behaves like he's heavily into cocaine abuse, although there is no evidence of this, other than a high-velocity personality that feeds off adrenaline. If Atlantic City is a hooker in a spangled micro, Santoro takes his cut and shouts "Hey ho!" to the great American dream.

On the evening of a big fight, when heavyweight champ, Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw), is defending his title in front of a packed home crowd, Secretary of Defense, Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani), is shot in the throat by a Middle Eastern gunman. Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise), an old school pal of Santoro's, a Navy commander assigned to the defence department and in charge of security, feels responsible, even though he dispatched the killer before they could escape, or talk.

Santoro, who was sitting one row in front of Kirkland takes charge and orders the stadium gates to be closed, so that witnesses can be interviewed. He confides in Dunne about the girl (Carla Gugino) with a peroxide wig, who gave the Secretary an envelope, seconds before he was shot, and then vanished. Also, who was that bimbo with the long red curls? And why did Dunne leave his seat to talk to her? As for Tyler, his actions during the fight demand investigation.

What appears to be an act of international terrorism evolves soon enough into a corporate conspiracy of devious double crossage, with Santoro stuck in the middle, refusing, for once, to be paid off. De Palma uses the Rashomon technique of replaying the murder sequence from different viewpoints and intercutting flashbacks with expert ease. The problem is neither Cage, nor the concept. It is the story.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A corrupt cop gets caught up in a murder conspiracy.
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Director: Brian De Palma

Writer: David Koepp

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, John Heard, Carla Gugino, Stan Shaw, Kevin Dunn, Michael Rispoli, Joel Fabiani, Luis Guzmán, David Anthony Higgins, Mike Starr

Year: 1998

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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