Rick Santoro (Cage) is the hotshot of Atlantic City. At least he thinks
he is. He's a plainclothes cop who knows every important person in town,
especially the bookies. He's a dedicated gambler, and tonight he's psyched
up because his favorite boxer, heavyweight champ Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw)
is fighting at his favorite casino. And to make the evening even better,
his best friend, Major Kevin Dunne (Sinise), is there too. Dunne is a decorated
veteran who now works in the government's higher echelons, and he's on hand
to protect the U.S. secretary of defense, who is also watching the fight.
But Rick's fight night goes from bad to worse. First he watches in horror
as Tyler goes down for the count, and then a shot rings out and the secretary
is killed while Dunne is up in the stands questioning a suspicious character.
Soon the killer is down and the arena is evacuated. Rick takes charge, but
the more he investigates, and remembers, the stranger everything seems.
Through a fascinating series of flashbacks shown through the eyes of several
different witnesses, we learn the many strange aspects of the incident:
A beautiful woman in a blonde wig is shot and then disappears. An old drunk
in the front row appears to have a tiny receiver in his ear. And the champ,
supposedly knocked out, seems wide awake during the shooting. Though the
assassin is reported to be a lunatic from the Middle East who acted alone,
Rick senses a conspiracy.
Telling much more would give away some of the more interesting elements
of the mystery, but let's just say that as the story unfolds and we think
we're figuring it out, we only become more confused.
The only flaw is in the ending. When the complex plot is finally resolved,
there is a sense of sloppiness to the story. Things don't fit together quite
as neatly as they could, and should, but this doesn't take away from the
film's qualities in the first two thirds. The final denouement is clever
and true to Rick's character.
Snake Eyes is a fun film, very entertaining in the first half hour, not quite as good in the last fifteen minutes, but generally well worth seeing. Cage and Sinise both give fine performances, as does Carla Gugino as the mystery victim and Shaw as the beleaguered champ. DePalma, a director who chooses his projects carefully, has scored again. ****
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