- By Bill Miller -

Snake Eyes starts off with a bang and ends with a blah.  Unfulfilled potential comes to mind when rating this film.  It's hard to write an enthusiastic review about a mediocre movie.  As the summer season winds down, the big-budget blockbusters begin to yield to the more frugal films of the fall.  Bridging the gap are movies like Snake Eyes, an R-rated Brian De Palma production.  Our autumn hopes are for a diamond in the rough, such as Good Will Hunting.

The movers and shakers of Snake Eyes assembled a wealth of talent -- but failed to produce a worthy script to showcase their gifts.  The abilities of actors Nicolas Cage (The Rock, Leaving Las Vegas, ConAir, City of Angels, Face/Off) and Gary Sinise (Apollo 13, Forrest Gump) and producer/director Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission Impossible) are not fully utilized by this subpar story.

It's no ordinary fight night in Atlantic City.  As tropical storm Jezebel rages upon the arena, inside brews a government conspiracy of hurricane proportions.  U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani) is in the news and in attendance at the heavyweight bout.  Protecting the Secretary and directing security is Naval Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise).  The commander is reunited professionally with his best friend, flamboyant detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage), a corrupt cop and the self proclaimed King of Atlantic City.  The action heats up as the champ and the Secretary go down, simultaneously.  Pandemonium ensues as Santoro and Dunne seal the exits and pursue the assassin.  Over 14,000 eye-witnesses and dozens of video cameras saw nothing.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  The first twenty minutes are promising but screenwriter David Koepp suffers a severe case of writer's block thereafter.  A good murder mystery needs to have several prime suspects and a plot that keeps you guessing.  In Snake Eyes, the conspiracy is not original and the mystery not present.  Furthermore, the villain is revealed without establishing any solid suspects--and way too early for a good who-done-it.  Frankly, there is more suspense and surprise in a Matlock episode.

More bad than good, equals two stars.

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