Buena Vista/Buena Vista .
R4 . COLOR . 95 mins .
M15+ . PAL
I like the Nic Cage acting method. Sure, I admit that sometimes it goes a little over the top, but generally I love the way he starts off all quiet like this then all of a sudden he YELLS OUT A BIT LIKE THIS! then he goes a little quiet again THEN HE YELLS ANOTHER BIT OUT!You know what I mean? HUH?!
The blonde guesses Nic's "happy size".
Many people find this annoying, a TESTAMENT TO HIS LACK OF TALENT! and a clear indication of his demise as an actor (until Adaptation came along, THAT IS!). But not me. Nope, send me more screaming and manic arm waving wildly gesticulating antics passing for acting any day. Method acting? PHAH! Who needs IT!?
Okay, I’ll knock that off now.
The best thing about Snake Eyes is he finally found a character who was the perfect fit for his style, even if it wasn’t fully realised for the entire film. Cage is Rick Santoro, a happily corrupt cop attending a big fight to meet up with an old friend, Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise) who’s head of security for the night. Santoro is a visual lowlife, wearing a sleazy, gaudy Hawaiian shirt, a tacky jacket and a pimp gold mobile phone. He’s every bit as dodgy as his clothing suggests when, in a brilliant piece of filmmaking, the opening sees a camera follow him for 12 minutes as he shakes down crims, takes bets, collects payments, chats up girls and generally acts like we think Nic Cage would in real life. There are supposedly two cuts hidden in this bit of bravado footage but I’m too busy to find them right now because I’m trying to create chicken flavoured cigarettes. I’m gonna sell the idea to KFC and retire a billionaire.
This is not a boob shot, it is a clue. Trust me, in the END you'll figure it out, and you'll give me CREDIT.
As the fight begins, a heavyweight match-up with an undefeated champ, Sinise is distracted by a redhead who looks out of place. A good looking redhead, a sexy redhead, a redhead with very nice bo… er, curls. I like redheads. Then... BAM! A gun goes off and a politician is shot. Mayhem ensues, people go running and screaming for the exits, it’s all “Aieeeee!”... and “argggghhhhh!”... and “mooooooooove!” so Cage orders the arena locked down and 14,000 potential witnesses held.
Sinise is panicked as he dropped the ball by looking at the redhead's boo... er, curls, and looks to have blown it big time by letting a politician get shot. But as Nic begins to piece together a story of the events leading up to the assassination – a boxer who takes a dive, a mysterious blonde in a wig, the sexy redhead, a fudged weapons system, spectators with earpieces - he believes that there may be a conspiracy at play.
Director Brain De Palma throws in all his usual ingredients; homage to other filmmakers, cover-ups, twists, false identity, deceit and lies, but unfortunately after about 45 minutes the story begins to bog down and all the tricksy camera work in the world (a bird's eye camera view over the top of hotel rooms is cool, but serves no purpose whatsoever) can’t save this from becoming just another ordinary thriller with good intentions, but lumbered with a flaccid script looking for a good ending.
You can’t help thinking that he had little faith in the story and somewhere along the line realised he needed to pull our attention back in from time to time with trademark De Palma style. “Hey, this movie’s kinda borin- HEY! Look at that shot! Cool! Man, this guy sure can make films…”
Yes, but so can my dog if I staplegun a camera to his head and feed him some acid, but it doesn’t mean that my dog will make a good film. Even a dog with a camera needs a good script. Then, of course, you have the problem of the dog licking his balls and trying to hump Nicole Kidman’s leg, but that’s something we’ll discuss in another review.
Snake Eyes looks good, with punchy colours to bring out the best (or worst in Cage’s case) of the clothing and gaudy casino and arena surrounds. Cage is designed to stand out from the garish environs and people, no small ask considering the location, and his outfit and flair look great. The anamorphic 2.35:1 picture is definitely too soft though, maybe a by-product of cleaning up grain, and if this is the case then it was a mistake which has removed a layer of detail that was needed.
The 5.1 mix is nothing special, probably most workmanlike in the centre channel, but I expected a little more pizzazz especially in the opening arena scenes. With a swirling camera and crowd all around, there was plenty of opportunity for some really cool discrete effects, but most of the time the stereo and surround channels sound like they’re carrying the same information and don’t live up to potential. Opportunities such as the gunshot of the assassination is a good example. What should have emanated from the right rear speaker and moved to the front right is instead muffled across both at once and has little to no impact at all. Deliberate or not, you have to ask De Palma, but more could have been made of this and similar elements.
No Extra Material. It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya. Plus, because I’m in a bad mood, there aren’t enough chapter points either. 12 just doesn’t cut it these days, sorry. I want 400!
As inconsistently entertaining as Snake Eyes is, it would have been a better film had they kept Cage a dirtbag for the duration rather than have him redeem himself in 45 minutes. C’mon, seriously, if you’re a corrupt cop and a friend offers you a million bucks to turn a blind eye, you’d take the money and run to the nearest whorehouse, wouldn’t you?
If you can live with what De Palma is lazily spoon feeding us though, then the DVD itself still looks and sounds like a hold over from the early days of region 4 releases, and comes up short in comparison to more recent efforts.