Summer of Nicolas Cage Movie #9: Snake Eyes

1998 movie

Rating: 13/20 (Jen: 11/20)

Plot: Shady Atlantic City policeman Ricky Santoro gets involved in the assassination of the Secretary of Defense while watching a heavyweight prize fight. As the mysteries surrounding the killing unravel, he starts to see his dreams of somebody becoming the mayor slip away. He and his best friend try to hold it all together.

Nicolas Cage in charge of holding things together? Not in this movie, Cowboy! This is unhinged Cage, a Cage on speed, overblown and tacky. He's awesome, especially in the lengthy opening sequence where he's dressed in this flamboyantly sleazy outfit and interacting with people like nobody would ever interact with anybody. Nicolas Cage is the only actor I can think of who overacts on movie posters. But as you know by now, I mean this as a compliment. He gets a juicy dynamic character to chew on here, and it's fun to watch him make Santoro a "Cage" character. As a movie, Snake Eyes is really kind of a failure. It falls completely apart at the end, getting really unrealistic and stupid, and the story doesn't really have a lot of meat on it. But with Brian De Palma's flashy direction, it's at least a very interesting failure. I dug the camera choreography, most notably in the lengthy opening where you meet Santoro and some of the other notables and see the assassination from our main character's viewpoint. It's an extended shot, maybe fifteen minutes or so where the camera swims all over the place, and it's even more impressive when you think about how many people were involved. I'm a sucker for the whole same-story-from-different-angles storytelling, and this one does it with style and finesse. There's another neat shot where the camera moves over a series of hotel rooms. Nothing we see going on in those individual rooms is important to the story, but it adds some nice shading to the proceedings. I also really liked a very suspenseful scene where two characters are in a race to reach another character. The performances around Cage's could have been better (Gary Sinese has this smugness that always annoys me), and the last half of the movie doesn't live up to the potential of the first half, but this has a lively pizazz that definitely makes it worth watching. And that awesome Cage performance, of course.


Barry said...

This is a bad movie. Apparently you are rating these Cage films based solely on the the Cage performance. (In that case I would give this one an 18.)

But as a movie, Snake Eyes is a nine...or ten. Its pretty dreadful.

Shane said...

But a stylistically interesting bad movie...and with a great Cage performance, it's definitely worth the time.