Snake Eyes

For the last two weeks, on the drive to work, I passed a Snake Eyes billboard. There’s a large picture of Nicolas Cage and in big letters below “Cage Snake Eyes.” That is some good advice from a studio trying to promote this film.

Detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage) is a guy who is loud and obnoxious. He’s a guy who wants everyone’s attention, and during the rainy night in Snake Eyes, he’ll get it. Santoro is attending a big boxing match at a large Atlantic City casino with his longtime friend Major Kevin Dunn (Gary Sinise). Dunn is there providing protective services for the Secretary of Defense.

During the fight, the Secretary is assassinated. All hell breaks loose and Santoro heads up the investigation, finding that there might be a conspiracy. He spends his time chasing after a woman in a blonde wig and another woman in a red wig. He thinks that there are others involved in the conspiracy, and since this is Hollywood, he’s right.

If you understood the conspiracy in Mission: Impossible, you will probably understand the conspiracy in Snake Eyes. I didn’t even bother with trying to understand why the Secretary was killed; I just looked at the wonderful camera work by cinematographer Stephen H. Burum.

After being engrossed by the whodunit of last week’s The Negotiator, I was disappointed that the head of the conspiracy is revealed so quickly in Snake Eyes. Writer David Koepp (Men in Black, Lost World, Mission: Impossible) pens the film in an inventive manner, but the weak point of the script remains; we get to find out who the bad guy is too quickly.

But that is not the weakest point of the film; it has one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen. It is plain awful and so unbelievable that I felt cheated after sitting in the theatre for two hours.

However, the first 90 minutes of Snake Eyes is very interesting. The way that DePalma shows us the story from different points of view is entertaining. Just keep in mind that one of these points of view is that of the killer and is the wrench thrown into the well-oiled machine – a view point that serves only to confuse an already confused audience.

DePalma also shows off with Snake Eyes. Some of the camera movements, angles, and setups in Snake Eyes are beyond belief. This includes the long opening sequence. The sequence follows Nicolas Cage for about 15 minutes and seems to be uncut, though there might be one or two cuts during some swish-pans. This opening left me saying, “Wow, now that was cool!” Snake Eyes should be a film shown during cinematography classes; there are quite a few setups that make for good studying.

As for acting, no one does anything new. Nicolas Cage revives his Castor Troy from Face/Off and melts in some of his Cameron Poe from Con Air for his part as Rick Santoro. He’s loud, brash, and too over-the-top to be enjoyable. His character has a sudden attack of conscience during the film that doesn’t ring true. The other lead actor, Gary Sinise, has played this type of part enough to be typecast. Sinise is awful in Snake Eyes; he needs to find a different type of role to play.

Snake Eyes is the worst of bad movies it starts off really well, builds up a lot of good story, then hits you with an improbable and laughable ending. Skip Snake Eyes in the theatres. As the billboard says, the movie Snake Eyes should be caged. No one needs this kind of disappointment. I wonder who let it out of the cage.

Edited by Cher Johnson.