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snake eyes

Snake Eyes

Starring Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinise
Screenplay by David Koepp
Story by Brian DePalma and David Koepp
Directed by Brian DePalma
Website: closed

IN SHORT: Looks great. Talks too much.

Cranky doesn't agree wholeheartedly with the guy who sat behind him at the sneak preview of Snake Eyes -- who walked out muttering "that was the worst thing I've ever seen" -- 'cuz he's seen worse. Snake Eyes is one of those movies where everybody involved tries too hard to make a top notch mystery-thriller, and delivers a dud that's not to my taste.

It should've been. Cranky, in general, likes the work of all the principals involved (and, yes, once he got over the Phelps nonsense, director Brian DePalma's Mission: Impossible wasn't that bad a flick). The premise is simple: Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage) an on-the-take cop with one wife, one kid, one girlfriend and an envelope in his pocket every Friday, stands inches away from an assassination of the Secretary of Defense at a heavyweight boxing match. The ticket is courtesy the DOD's security officer, Navy Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise) who is off chasing a suspicious redhead when the bullet hits the mark. The assassin is killed. A mysterious blonde (Carla Gugino) is wounded. Santoro behaves like the loser he is and accuses the heavyweight champ (Stan Shaw) of throwing the match, and thus costing him ten grand. Something Shaw tells Santoro makes the latter behave like a real cop, and he pieces together the real story from the tales of three witnesses.

Think a bit and you can probably figure it out from the above paragraph. That doesn't give you the why or wherefore in a story that has enough twists built in that the potential for a killer story is obvious. There is so much thought given to the details of the investigation, and a very clever idea for the climax of the movie, that the disappointment is total.

Cranky felt like he was sitting through bits and pieces of other creator's work. Screenwriter David Koepp has turned out a David Mamet-like script without the curse words. Everything important, character-wise, is buried in the dialog. Normally, that would be worth applauding, but in this case the characters are so over or underplayed that the flick is, basically, all talk. Nicolas Cage tries too hard to make Santoro into a bigger than life focus of all attention. Gary Sinise's Navy Commander Kevin Dunne is so tightly wrapped that when he comes undone the net result is a long monologue

Brian DePalma, as is his right, continues in the path of Hitchcock and produces a visually elaborate story that gives "it" away too soon and doesn't know when to end. The camera shoots at odd angles. It swoops over hotel rooms and through the crowds at the Atlantic City arena where the film is set, and looks marvelous. DePalma fails to reign Cage in, and the actor's over the top introduction creates an unlikeable character who doesn't win you over when he finally does the right thing.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Snake Eyes, he would have paid . . .

$3.00

Wait and rent it.


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