Assault on your Senses in Atlantic City
Atlantic City cop Ricky Santoro (Nicolas Cage) is a flamboyant wheeler dealer who is not averse to breaking the rules as long as he gets something out of it. But at the heavyweight boxing championship he finds himself involved in an assassination investigation when the Secretary of Defense is gunned down whilst his friend Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise) is on protection duty. As Ricky starts looking through footage and talking to people who were there he not only discovers that boxer Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw) was throwing the fight but the assassination was part of a master plan with a surprising mastermind.
A great magician is busy distracting you so that you don't see what is going on, he puts on a show, a performance and then all of a sudden he wows you with the reveal. Watching "Snake Eyes" is like that because Brian De Palma throws everything at you with lots of characters, lots of actors many delivering larger than life performances, lots of stylish camera work from close ups to shots which seem to go on and on as well as flashbacks which all come across as a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the storyline. And that is what is likely going to hit you when the movie is over, how much smoke and mirrors goes on in the movie to distract you from what is going on.
Now in fairness "Snake Eyes" is a movie of mystery and reveals; we have a question over a redhead, a question over another woman in a white dress, revelations over why a boxing match was being thrown. All of which comes together through flashbacks and alternative views of the action to finally tell you what has gone on. But not only does it end up feeling ridiculously contrived but due to the focus on putting on a show it becomes an attack on the senses to the point it becomes too much.
Part of the trouble is that it seems like Nicolas Cage has been told to make Ricky Santoro larger than life but in doing so it is so over the top that you being to wish someone would lay him out. Cage is not the only one who seems pumped up and lots of the cast seem to have been told to over play their parts, put more into delivering looks and lines. It makes "Snake Eyes" a movie which is hard work because it is so full on for long periods of time.
What this all boils down to is that "Snake Eyes" whilst worth watching is a movie which ends up not just flawed but an assault on your senses which makes it extremely hard work. Ironically when I watched "Snake Eyes" back in 1998 I thought it was a great movie full of creative styling and a top performance from Nicolas Cage, just shows how opinions can change.