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Snake Eyes Cast: Nicholas Cage, Gary Sinise Director: Brian De Palma Screenplay: David Koepp DVD, Rs. 499Snake Eyes is a gambling term where the dice throws two single pips, which is supposed to look like a snake’s eyes. The term also has associations with treachery and deceit. In Brian De Palma’s flashy super stylish film, it could also stand for the multiple points of view coming together to complete the picture.

But all that is beside the point in this cinematic tour de force which converts an ordinary thriller to the stuff of a cineastes’ dream. Starting from that never-ending first sequence, which IMDB says has eight cuts but I will have to watch it a few more times to see where the cuts have been sneaked in, the movie is a relentless assault on the senses.

It is fight night in Atlantic City, with boxer Lincoln Tyler defending his title. There is also Hurricane Jezebel lashing the city with all her fury. Just as Tyler goes down, shots ring out and the Secretary of Defence is shot. Major Kevin Dunn, who is in charge of security is out to uncover the truth with his childhood friend, Rick Santoro who is a corrupt cop and in charge of the investigation.

The incredible opening steady cam sequence which goes on for at least 13 minutes, is one of the greatest expositions. The camera is almost always on Rick Santoro played with phenomenal panache by Nicholas Cage. The camera follows him as stalks the corridors as the king of his sewer as he charmingly puts it. He chats with wife and child and then also his mistress, meets up with old school buddy, Kevin, places a bet, gets the money for the bet by not completely honest means, chats with Tyler, watches the match and cosies up to a mysterious blonde woman and is on the spot with the Secretary of Defence is shot.

The movie looks at the shooting from different perspectives with out of the world camera work and the truth is revealed one layer at a time. There are the unreliable witnesses, the secret agendas and there cannot be just one plain, unvarnished truth. And if you think this sounds familiar from “Vantage Point”, you can also see that Pete Travis is no Brian De Palma and what becomes repetitive and gimmicky in Travis’ hands, is a cinematic tour de force in De Palma’s accomplished hands.

Another long, never-ending tracking shot which builds a quiet tension as the camera turns into a voyeur/hunter as it swoops down on a series hotel rooms with the walls dissolving under the all-seeing 1,500 security cameras is pure exhilarating genius. It is shots like this that restores our faith in the magic of the movies.

Cage seems to have the greatest fun playing the corrupt, loud, flashy Santoro. Gary Sinise, as the straight as an arrow Army man is a suitable foil to Cage’s pyrotechnics. While the third act is a bit of a let down with the characters behaving in unlikely ways and a force of nature stepping in for the final resolution, one is willing to forgive it for the ninety minutes of extraordinary film we are treated to.

There are no extras, which is a pity for if only we could have seen how that first scene was executed! Well magicians never tell and so we would just have to look at the movie again and again till we can crack it.





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