August 8, 1998 -- "Snake Eyes" has a lot of potential to be a great movie. It has great acting talent and a good director. The premise is solid, but the story crashes and burns at the very end.
The story involves a complicated murder plot involving conspirators in high levels of government and industry. Yeah, so what else is new? The new thing here is that the murder takes place in front of 14,000 witnesses, lots of security people and lots of security cameras.
You have to be real tricky to pull this off. Nicholas Cage plays a lazy cop on the take, Detective Rick Santoro, who ends up solving the mystery almost in spite of himself. Gary Sinise ("Forrest Gump") plays Major Kevin Dunne, Santoro's best friend and the mastermind behind the murder conspiracy.
Cage gives a great performance as Santoro, a cop who is out of control, cheating on his wife, taking bribes and gambling heavily in Atlantic City. There's a great scene where he finds out his friend is behind the murders and he has to decide what to do with whistle blower Julia Costello (Carla Gugino, formerly of "Spin City"). It is a wonderful bit of acting.
As good as Cage and Sinise are in this film, they cannot save it. The film is good at the beginning, loses steam about three-quarters of the way along, but is still interesting right up until the payoff scene at the end. There, it completely falls apart with mind-numbingly stupid and arbitrary plot developments. A ludicrous climax is followed a series of needless epilogue scenes that sputter out to a weak, insipid conclusion.
Director Brian De Palma certainly has made some good films, such as "Carrie" and "Casualties of War," but couldn't finish this one. De Palma, who co-wrote the screenplay, has to take the fall for this one, along with co-writer David Koepp. This film rates a D on a scale of A to F.
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