Movie Magazine International

Snake Eyes

USA - 1998

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

Straight from the clutches of spooky man, Brian DePalma, comes "Snake Eyes," a whodunitandwhy set in Atlantic City. Nicholas Cage is Rick Santoro, a crooked homicide detective with a comfy life: a wife, a son, a girlfriend, lots of friends and a job that allows him to bully lowlifes out of their money. He's very happy and hopes to be mayor someday.

He meets up with his best friend, Kevin Dunn, a high-level Navy security officer, at a prizefight. When the Secretary of Defense is assassinated at the event, the building is sealed and everyone has an account of preceding events.

While the movie's title is a gambling reference, the script uses the alliteration of sight - who saw what and when. The evening is reviewed and described from the viewpoints of various characters. The point is driven home when the film's heroine, Julia, played by the lovely Carla Gugino, loses her glasses and our perspective becomes blurred.

Cage is, as always, cagey. Those popping eyeballs, scary smile and sardonic voice are worked into every character he plays. In this case, Rick is morally vacant and when his conscious makes a comeback, it's a shock to his ambitious nature. Meanwhile, Cage earns his pay with blunt deliveries. How's the wife, Kevin asks: "Fat, happy." How's the girlfriend? "Skinny, mean, expensive."

As for Sinise, there are no harder working eyebrows in all of Hollywood; not since Nicholson have we seen an actor utilize strips of hair with such skill. The character, unfortunately, is not so expertly drawn and when Kevin's hermetically-sealed ethics begin to unravel, it appears forced and slightly ridiculous.

The film gets off to a rousing start but never really picks up steam. For an action-suspense flick, there is an abundance of talking. There are also a few obvious flaws that embarrass the viewer.

Point One: If the Secretary of Defense were assassinated, would they allow a local sleazoid cop to lead the investigation? That entire city would be so overrun with Feds, it would be a sea of brass and suits, not sharkskin lounge jackets. Furthermore, the mysterious brunette in the blonde wig, Julia, who was talking to the Secretary and even caught a bullet, runs through the arena in a white blood-soaked suit unnoticed? She even has the luxury of washing up in a deserted women's room? Come on.

"Snake Eyes" achieves entertainment but stretches itself too thin. In big budget American movies these days, there is always a corner that is turned and predictability waits there. To get the full satisfaction out of such films, it's best to leave at this point. In short, I expected better from Mr. DePalma.

© 1998 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 8/98

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