Snake Eyes (1998)

Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: David Koepp
Cinematographer: Stephen H. Burum
Composer: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise, Carla Cugino, Luis Guzmán.

Somehow Nicolas Cage has a career. Nepotism in Hollywood must be very strong, because how else do you justify this actor’s career and even an undeserved Oscar win? Sure, some people are entertained by the crazy manic performances he churns out multiple times per year, but never once has anyone been able to make a compelling argument explaining in what ways Cage is a good actor. For some unknown reason, the other night I was scrolling through the possibilities offered by Netflix and I mysteriously clicked on this movie and actually watched it all the way through, partly amused by its utter absurdity and stupidity and partly because I was too lazy to switch it off or find something else to watch.

I also never quite got the cult like adoration for Brian De Palma. I must admit that I’ve only seen a handful of his movies, but they comprise the ones that people most quote as his best. I will admit that visually he can be at times quite compelling, especially when he utilizes long tracking shots and split screens, but the movies themselves are not that great, and most of them are not memorable. Scarface, a remake of the superior 1932 movie, resonated with many people and Mission: Impossible started a franchise that this year added one more film to its collection, but beyond that? Meh.

Snake Eyes is another forgettable film from the late 90’s, 1998 to be exact. The story is contained in a casino and a fight match during which an assassination takes place. The list of suspects extends to everyone in the arena and on the job are slightly crooked and crazed cop Rick Santoro (Cage) and his more upstanding and buttoned up best friend and Navy Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise, proving that he is better off on TV rather than in the movies). So many suspects, so many red herrings, and yet the screenwriter decided that the audience should know the culprit just halfway through the movie, effectively destroying whatever suspense it had managed to develop and completely halting the momentum of the film. All the film is left with is an over the top Cage, a soporific Sinise, and the uninteresting and useless inclusion of Carla Cugino as a mysterious woman in a blonde wig who spends most of the movie locked in a warehouse or pretending to be a prostitute. Oh and there is a hurricane. And a tidal wave.

I will simply chalk up my decision to watch this movie as a mistake and warn anyone else that there are better thrillers, if this even constitutes as one, out there. Time can indeed be wasted in a variety of ways, but there certainly are more entertaining ways to do so and watching this film should not be one of them.


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