Snake Eyes (1998)

Long sit, but there's visual flair to spare as the always-stylisti-
cally-exciting Brian DePalma (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) directs.  (Most 
impressive is the 15-minute opening shot-- seemingly a single take 
via Steadicam.  How many could've-been-hidden-cuts did you count?)  
Nifty premise, too, with Nick Cage as an Atlantic City cop, racing 
to reconstruct the events leading up to an assassination at a 
championship boxing match.  (He has an hour and a half before the 
Feds arrive-- roughly the length of the film, surprise, surprise.  
And, did I mention that there's a hurricane raging outside, as 

Emotionally hollow from the get-go, SNAKE EYES still has enough 
going on on-screen to keep the mind moving.  We watch as Cage's 
character watches, sorting through videotapes and witness testimony 
and his own flashed-back memories.  (He saw more than he realized.)  
It all ends up a moot point, however, as the villain is abruptly 
revealed about halfway through the film.  (Why?  Beats the Hell out 
of me.)  The tone then shifts a bit, from whodunit to cat-and-
mouse, but the tension never really tightens.  Not enough.  (Part 
of the problem is Cage, whose performance is so far over-the-top 
that he never feels in sync with the rest of the movie.  Of course, 
it doesn't help matters that his character is sketched so sleazily, 

The big finish is the biggest let-down-- a silly, sloppily-choreo-
graphed climax that DePalma might as well have directed in his 
sleep.  (Come on, does Cage's character even *need* to get roughed-
up?  Leave him alone, let him wander, and you tighten the ending 
by, what, ten, maybe fifteen minutes?)  Bottom line:  SNAKE EYES is 
a bad bet.  Oh, and speaking of over-the-top, what's the deal with 
John Heard's accent?  He sounds like a freakin' cartoon character!?  
With Gary Sinese, Carla Gugino, Stan Shaw, and Kevin Dunn.  Written 
by David Koepp (THE LOST WORLD) and well-scored by Ryuichi Sakamoto 
(LITTLE BUDDHA).  (Rated "R"/99 min.)

Grade: C-

Copyright 1998 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: August 9, 1998

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