Snake Eyes

1998

Snake Eyes (1998)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Snake Eyes has a number of ingredients that promise a trashy fun time; unfortunately, they're lost in an energetic and stylish thriller with a frustratingly hollow core.

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Movie Info

Brian DePalma directed this taut thriller, set in Atlantic City, where a corrupt cop investigates a political assassination. Outside an Atlantic City arena-hotel-casino, a TV news reporter stands in a pre-hurricane storm to report on the heavyweight boxing match about to begin inside. A transition to the stadium interior focuses on Atlantic City homicide Detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage), a father with a wife and son, yet also a dishonest cop who maintains a mistress and cheerfully accepts bribes. DePalma's Steadicam follows Santoro on a fast-paced tour of the stadium as the laughing, yelling detective travels stairs and hallways, talks to a gal with a between-rounds placard, visits the dressing room of champ Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw), rides down an escalator to squeeze money from a small-time hood, enters the arena of 14,000 fight fans, talks on his phone with his girlfriend and wife, and sits ringside next to his lifelong buddy, Navy Cmdr. Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise). Behind Dunne, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani) is seated alongside billionaire casino owner Gilbert Powell (John Heard). As the fight gets underway, Dunne abandons his position protecting the defense chief to pursue a suspicious redhead. From his ringside vantage point, Santoro has a close view of the champ, curiously conscious despite taking a kayo punch. At that moment, an assassin fires at Kirkland. Santoro immediately concocts a good cover story for his pal (to explain why Dunne left his post protecting Kirkland). Just after the shooting, Dunne kills a Palestinian extremist, the apparent killer, and Santoro orders the stadium doors locked, hoping he can locate other suspects among the fleeing crowd. One such is Julia Costello (Carla Gugino), an injured woman in a blond wig who spoke with Kirkland seconds before the gunfire. After a video replay reveals the champ took a fall, going down to the floor from a punch that never touched him, Santoro becomes more curious and suspicious, comparing witness accounts, and he attempts to locate Julia, convinced she's the key to truth behind the assassination. As it all comes to a head, Santoro peels through successive layers of corruption, ultimately confronting himself in a self-examination of his own values. Filmed at Montreal's old Forum. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

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Cast

Nicolas Cage
as Det. Rick Santoro
Gary Sinise
as Cdr. Kevin Dunne
John Heard
as Gilbert Powell
Carla Gugino
as Julia Costello
Stan Shaw
as Lincoln Tyler
Kevin Dunn
as Lou Logan
Michael Rispoli
as Jimmy George
Joel Fabiani
as Secretary Charles Kirkland
Mike Starr
as Walt McGahn
Chip Zien
as Mickey Alter
Christain Napoli
as Michael Santoro
Adam C. Flores
as Jose Pacifico Ruiz
Chip Chuipka
as Zietz/Drunk
Michaella Bassey
as Tyler's Party Girl No. 2
Paul Joseph Bernardo
as Casino Security No. 1
Jernard Burks
as Tyler's Bodyguard
Desmond Campbell
as Arena Security No. 1
Jean-Paul Chartrand
as Ring Announcer
Deano Clavet
as Arena Security
Tara Ann Culp
as Lady at Elevator
Kelly Deadmon
as Blonde Reporter
Frédérick De Grandpré
as College Boy No. 1
Sébastien Delorme
as College Boy No. 4
George Fourniotis
as Blue Shirt No. 3
Alain Goulem
as PPV Director
Dean Hagopian
as Latecomer
Byron Johnson
as College Boy No. 2
Guy Kelada
as Blue Shirt
Sylvain Landry
as Remote Producer
Cary Lawrence
as Powell's Aide
Richard Lemire
as Agent No. 2
William J. McKeon III
as Anthea's Cameraman
Jason Nuzzo
as Coin Cup Grabber
Patrick Parent
as Detective
Peter Patrikios
as Coin Cup Decoy
Jacynthe Rene
as Couple No. 1
Stephen Spreekmeester
as College Boy No. 3
Eva Tep
as Tyler's Party Girl No. 1
John Thaddeus
as Cop No. 2
Brian Anthony Wilson
as Casino Security No. 2
Richard Zeman
as Agent No. 1
Gerard Max Desilus
as Tyler's Party Crash Guy
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News & Interviews for Snake Eyes

Critic Reviews for Snake Eyes

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (16)

Wispy threads of dramatic plausibility and character involvement unravel completely by the time of the incredibly silly final reel.

Sep 18, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

Never loses its bearings as it hovers between preposterous paranoia and a Billy-Wilder-like moral fable about a deeply flawed hero who draws a line in the sand beyond which he cannot go.

Apr 27, 2007 | Full Review…
Observer
Top Critic

The film echoes the technical wizardry and complex plotting of De Palma's best film, Blow Out.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Director Brian De Palma does his stylish best to weave the patchy script into a cinematic quilt, but despite his best efforts -- and they're often formidable -- the thing just doesn't cohere.

Jul 12, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

What might have been fascinating after a while becomes frustrating and, finally, a real slog.

Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

It's the worst kind of bad film: the kind that gets you all worked up and then lets you down, instead of just being lousy from the first shot.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Snake Eyes

'Ricky' Santoro: It isn't lying! You just tell them what you did right, and you leave out the rest!  "Believe everything except your eyes." Snake Eyes is a tale of two halves. The first half was amazing, exciting, and just a great setup for a thriller. The second half didn't live up to the standards of the first, and ended up only disappointing me. Still, this was an interesting and cool film from De Palma. It isn't up there with his best, but it is still a lively and entertaining thriller. The endings disappointment may be a little too much for most, but I was able to get over it and still find enjoyment with the whole production. Even when the movie ended up running out of steam at about the hour mark; it still managed to be pretty cool and never got boring. Part of the entertainment is the eccentric performance from Nicholas Cage. This performance from him came when he wasn't a complete laughingstock. I am one of the few who actually like his eccentric performances in movies like this and Bad Lieutenant. It's when he sleepwalks through performances in shitty movies, that I hate him.  I'll only talk about the setup for Snake Eyes as I don't want to give away too many details. Ricky is a corrupt cop, who is at a heavyweight fight. He has money down on the favorite. As the fight goes on, he and everyone else witness an assassination. He, along with his naval friend, try to figure out everyone who was behind this; as it wasn't just the shooter. There's a major plot twist that De Palma sort of undersells, but probably because it was predictable. The film could have taken a few different routes and the one Koepp and De Palma chose may not be the best, but as it is, it isn't too bad.  Just don't expect another masterpiece from De Palma with Snake Eyes. It is definitely not up to standards with the best of his work. Still, it is a cool little thriller. Nothing more and nothing less. When looked at as it is, it isn't too bad. I know a lot of people hate it just because it has another wacky performance from Cage. More people hate it because the ending didn't really wrap it up in a satisfactory way. For me, I like it because of Cage and because of the amazing setup. It could have been much better, but it is a decent effort nonetheless. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Brian DePalma's Snake Eyes is a pretty bad thriller. The concept of Snake Eyes was great, and I quite enjoyed the idea, however the execution of the plot isn't poor, and Brian DePalma, who usually directs good films, is pretty sloppy this time around. Snake Eyes could have been something great, but instead it's an awful film that simply doesn't cut it. I felt that the writing was sloppy and the film was one of those films that didn't know what to do with an elaborate concept. This is exactly the problem with Snake Eyes, the filmmakers don't know how to effectively develop the films plot to truly be something that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Snake Eyes conclusion leaves a lot to be desired and is frankly disappointing. The film could have been good, but it never delivers anything spectacular. Nicholas Cage overacts his part, and it becomes laughable. Snake Eyes may have had a good idea for its plot, but Brian DePalma and the cast really don't know how to make it work so that it is effectively entertaining for the viewer. After watching Snake Eyes, I was really thrilled overall, and was very disappointed. I've seen quite a few DePalma films, and he's a good director, but Snake Eyes is one of his worst films. DePalma does his best to try and conceive an effective thriller, unfortunately his efforts are wasted, and Snake Eyes ends up being a bad film that is quite frankly a waste of time. This film could have been much better, but instead it doesn't do anything to thrill the viewer. Usually a thriller sucks you in by the first frame, and leaves you hooked, Snake Eyes does the opposite, it sucks you in, but doesn't do anything great to capture your imagination, and thus it's quite a lame thriller.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

½

When it comes to thrillers, Brian De Palma's name always comes to the top of my list as one of the living masters. In his polical conspiracy thriller Snake Eyes, we have an extremely effective film that is very much in the De Palma style with the long uncut sequences and split-screen scenes while also carrying what is perhaps Nicolas Cage's finest performance outside of Raising Arizona. Of course this sort of film gets made a lot and they all come a dime a dozen these days but with De Palma behind this one it all just fits perfectly and works. The only thing that bothers me is the pseudo-happy ending, which I won't spoil. I'm a huge fan of De Palma as he's one of my favorite directors and this film is just another in a long line of great pieces of cinema from the master. Riveting and entertaining with his style written all over it, you can't go wrong.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

In Snake Eyes, De Palma has made a film that is deeply immersing and one that makes sure you're giving it your unrelenting attention (at least until the last twenty minutes) that isn't on a really grand scale like in Mission: Impossible. Snake Eyes is a relatively straight forward mystery, detective film; much like Mission: Impossible yet unlike that film, it is compelling and interesting with characters we spend enough time with to grow to like and despise; with characters who drift in and out of the story and with camera work, setting and trickery more akin to a sports car commercial. One reason Snake Eyes is a good film is that it takes place in a rather extravagant setting, has a narrative that starts off as nothing and that escalates as the film progresses and combines good pacing and scripting throughout. This is sort of the film Mission: Impossible wanted to be but that was all over the world with characters who you thought were dead but showed up later anyway and a film that was nice to look at but there was too much going on - Snake Eyes is based in one location, a location that starts off as a utopia for gambling, sports fans and people looking for a break. There is color, energy, bright lights from the gambling machines and enough product placement to suggest you are definitely in the Western world attempting to go from rags to the American dream in a second through one-arm bandits. De Palma prides himself on his camera work and split screen effect. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses but in Snake Eyes it hits dead centre. The opening take (which actually contains a few cuts) is fun as well as effective but very immersing - putting you in the film. Also, the way multiple points of view are integrated into the film as different people's stories are being told is reminiscent of characters floating in and out of a multi stranded, non-linear graphic novel. Apart from the visual pleasantries most good films made in the post classical Hollywood era have; the film's story does hold up, albeit weak. There is something about government weapons and how one person's disagreement can lead to betrayal within the armed forces resulting in a lot of pain, death and panic in an instant - that instant just happens to be at a big money boxing match. The film and its narrative move along at a good pace - twists are revealed when necessary and even when they are, twists in the form of further betrayal within that antagonistic group are very entertaining. My particular favorite scene or sequence involves a girl who everyone is looking for: the protagonist police man because she's a witness and the antagonist backstabber because she knows who really did it; needless to say, the whole fifteen minute sequence revolving around her trying to escape them by posing as a loose girl just to get to the safe haven of a hotel suite is brilliant to watch as each side hunt her, she desperately tries to get to the room and the chief of security watches everyone's every move through CCTV. Like I said in the opening paragraph: 'everything's good until the last twenty minutes' certainly comes into play in Snake Eyes. I read that the ending was changed but some scenes such as Cage's 'I thought I was going to drown in there' had me wondering what the ell he was on about but further reading says the first ending involved a tidal wave (all is suddenly clear); also, the whole following of Cage's character to the desired place by the bad guy followed by the way he is defeated from a winning position (thanks to the weather and his own stupidity) was disappointing. It's not all bad; at one point Cage must contemplate siding with the bad guy and as he does so, stares down at a blood soaked dollar note after being offered a price to stay quiet in return for actual bloodshed which was a nice piece of iconography. I have to recommend Snake Eyes for its great visuals, fun yet entertaining plot and for its all round noir/crime-feel.

David Ladd
David Ladd

Super Reviewer

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