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Snake Eyes (DVD)
Member Name: Jarisleif
Snake Eyes (DVD)
Advantages: Great writing
Disadvantages: Not many
"Snake Eyes" is a 1998 thriller which was directed by Brian De Palma, who has directed such blockbusters as "Scarface" (1983), "Casualties of War" (1989) and "Mission: Impossible" (1996).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film is 98 minutes in length and stars Nicolas Cage ("Leaving Las Vegas", "Con Air", "Gone in Sixty Seconds") as Detective Rick Santoro, Gary Sinise ("Forrest Gump", "The Green Mile", "The Stand") as Commander Kevin Dunne, and Carla Gugino ("Righteous Kill", "Spy Kids", "American Gangster") as Julia Costello.
The plot for the film reads as follows: A shady police detective finds himself in the middle of a murder conspiracy at an important boxing match in an Atlantic City casino.
Rick Santoro is a detective with a certain air of invincibility about him, which is shown during the opening scenes as he arrives to watch a heavyweight boxing match, in the company of his best friend, Kevin Dunne, a Commander of the US Navy. The main focus on the film is based around the US Secretary of Defense who has been shot by an unknown gunman inside the arena and it's down to Santoro to solve the case and in doing so, begins to realise that all is not what it seems with his friend. Is it any good? Let's find out!
So here it is, the last ever event at the Atlantic City Arena, a heavyweight title fight between reigning champion Lincoln Tyler, and challenger, Jose Ruiz. The ring announcer, played by Jean-Paul Chartrand, does his best Michael Buffer impression as he introduces the fighters to the audience and soon after, the hugely anticipated fight gets underway. The Secretary of Defense is shot moments after Tyler is knocked to the ground and in the ensuing pandemonium, Santoro notices Tyler isn't as groggy as he is supposed to be and realises that he probably took a dive. His suspicions are later confirmed as he watches CCTV footage which shows Tyler on the end of a 'phantom punch'.
There is a scene where Santoro is in the casino's camera room, when they're checking all the different angles. You know that annoyance we all have when you spot an actor or actress that you've seen in something before? This happened to me with Walt McGahn, played by Mike Starr, when I had to pause the film and find out he was in "Dumb and Dumber" as 'Mental' Joe Mentalino. I also found out he was in "Goodfellas" and with it being one of my all-time favourite films, you would think I'd remember!
There is some really good use of split screen technology while the different scenarios are being played out during the film. These scenarios included various angles of inside the arena at the time of the shooting, which, over time, shed more light on what really happened and who was behind it all. It was during one of these scenes where Santoro realises his friend was dirty and part of the murder plot, and there is a wonderful cat and mouse segment where he and Dunne are scouring the casino's hotel hallways looking for Julia, who witnessed the shooting and had tricked a patron into taking her to his room to seek shelter. I did enjoy how they were played out, as each one showed something different, building up to the climax. Perhaps the most poignant scene comes where Dunne is trying to buy Santoro off and enlist him into his scheme, whereupon the detective is having none of it. The camera, pausing for effect, settles on a wad of cash which is bloodstained. I thought the effect was really clever, as it signified blood money.
There is another powerful scene where Santoro is being beaten senseless by Tyler, who has been paid by Dunne, and you can't help but feel sorry for him. There is a slightly (ok, very) unrealistic bit though where the heavyweight boxer couldn't knock him out, yet Dunne puts him out cold with one punch. Stan Shaw, who plays Lincoln Tyler, is a convincing boxer and was actually in a deleted scene of "Rocky", and was also a boxer in "Tough Enough". Speaking of Santoro, Nicolas Cage's character is a wild and whacky guy who likes to bend the rules. He's very probably on drugs, though it's never shown during the film but is suggested near the end. The film's score is excellent. It's serious at the right moments, sinister in others, and brilliantly edited to fit each scene.
In summary, I've always liked the majority of Nicolas Cage films, and this is no exception. It might not be to everyone's taste, but when he was given these parts, he played them to perfection and gets right into the meat and potatoes of the role in question. He's helped along by Gary Sinise here, who takes his role seriously and likely got his part as Burt Hammersmith in "The Green Mile" on the back of this film. Brian De Palma is one of those directors that actors love to hate, but I, for one, cannot see why. This man gets results behind the camera, and "Snake Eyes" is one of those films that I can watch over and over again without ever getting bored.
The critics were mixed in their reception of the film:
Variety: "Wispy threads of dramatic plausibility and character involvement unravel completely by the time of the incredibly silly final reel."
USA Today: "The film sports some of the most breathtaking filmmaking of De Palma's career -- and Nicolas Cage is the one actor who cannot be upstaged by it."
New York Times: "A great big juicy gob of apocalyptic paranoia."
Chicago Sun-Times: "It's the worst kind of bad film: the kind that gets you all worked up and then lets you down, instead of just being lousy from the first shot."
Entertainment Weekly: "Has Brian De Palma finally lost his mind? Ever since "Carrie", his one true masterpiece, this director has evolved into a cinematic serial killer of common sense."
My rating: 8/10
Summary: A very good film, you'll probably love it.