The Good: Carla Gugino, First half hour
The Bad: Second half, Lack of consistent characterization, Unsatistfying ending
The Basics: An excellent setup leads into a terrible disappointment when Snake Eyes attempts to be clever but instead negates all real characterization.
It's the unfortunate film that begins so well as to be called engrossing and then degenerates into something silly and unprovacative. Yet, such is what you have with Snake Eyes. It is not, as the video box suggests entitled "Cage Snake Eyes" which is as it appears on the box, movie poster, etc. It seems like they're selling Nicholas Cage. Well, his character is bought, perhaps he is as well.
Cage plays Rick Santoro, a mostly-corrupt cop who gets jazzed about fight night. Rick has an old time friend Kevin Dunne, who is a Commander in the army and is set the task of guarding the Secretary of Defense. After betting heavily, Rick goes to the prize fight to watch the heavyweight champion duke it out with a competitor. Kevin, apparently concerned with a security risk, takes off after a redhead. Moments later, Kirkland is shot and Rick has to piece together what happened. Rick's main lead is a woman who approached Kirkland moments before the shooting, Julia.
The problem lies in how everything goes from there. It's not too revealing to suggest that Gary Senise needs to get cast as something other than a villain. The problem is, it's not revealing anything. It's not a surprise. Gary plays Kevin as too perfect, it's set up to be a surprise that he's involved. The problem with that is that it doesn't read as real. Kevin and Rick have a real bond. Or so it appears. Rick doesn't appear nearly as traumatized as he ought to considering the set up in the beginning.
There's something to be said for the idea that two people who are close can't change without the other knowing it. The film sets up their relationship as one such relationship and then it doesn't realize it. Kevin comes off as too true for how far he falls. Sadly, Rick's rise to heroism makes more sense than Kevin's decline into villainy.
The only great acting in the film comes from Carla Gugino. Her character is the most consistent, the most real and the best acted. Julia seems giving and kind and concerned. She is exactly the conscientious citizen that does rise up to fight corruption when she learns of it. Carla Gugino acts perfectly for the role, adding more than simply an innocent face, but genuine confusion and realistic movement to a person out of place in a world where law enforcement and criminals lay in the same bed.
Sadly, even Carla's wonderful acting is not enough to recommend this film. If you ever catch it on television, set a timer. When you hit thirty minutes, turn it off and make up your own ending. Trust me; it's better that way.
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© 2011, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.