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Snake Eyes (1998 film)

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Snake Eyes is a 1998 American conspiracy thriller film directed by Brian De Palma, featuring his trademark use of long tracking shots and split screens. It stars Nicolas Cage, Gary Sinise and Carla Gugino. The film was written by David Koepp and De Palma, and was released to theaters on August 7, 1998. It cost an estimated $73 million to produce and returned $103 million worldwide, but received mixed reviews from critics.

Snake Eyes
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian De Palma[1]
Produced byBrian De Palma
Screenplay byDavid Koepp
Story byBrian De Palma
David Koepp
Music byRyuichi Sakamoto
CinematographyStephen H. Burum
Edited byBill Pankow
Distributed byParamount Pictures
(North America)
Buena Vista International
Release date
August 7, 1998
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$73 million
Box office$103.9 million[2]


On a dark and stormy night, corrupt, flamboyant Atlantic City police detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage) attends a boxing match at Gilbert Powell's (John Heard) Atlantic City Arena between heavyweight champion Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw) and challenger Jose Pacifico Ruiz. He meets up with his best friend since childhood, Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise), who is a U.S. Navy Commander working with the Department of Defense to escort Defense Secretary Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani) and Powell at the fight after a trip to Norfolk, Virginia.

As the first round begins, Kevin is distracted by an attractive redhead named Serena (Jayne Heitmeyer) who wears a ruby ring, and leaves his seat, which is then taken by Julia Costello (Carla Gugino), a mysterious woman with platinum blonde hair and a white satin suit. When Tyler is unexpectedly knocked out by Ruiz, gunshots ring out, mortally wounding Kirkland and grazing Julia, who loses her glasses and blonde wig, revealing her naturally dark hair. Kevin kills the sniper and orders the arena to be locked down. Despite the lockdown, Julia escapes into the casino, covers her wounds in pieces of cloth from her blouse and, after stealing a black satin jacket, disguises herself as a hooker.

Rick notices that the "knocked out" Tyler woke up instantly when the shots rang out and, after studying the fight tape, realizes the knockout punch didn't connect. Tyler confesses that he threw the fight in order to pay gambling debts, but he was never told that anyone would be killed and reveals that he was paid to take a dive by Serena, the redhead who tricked Kevin into leaving his post. With the involvement of Tyler, Serena and the sniper - in addition to the man who signaled Tyler to go down and whoever gave him the go-ahead - Rick suspects a conspiracy and reveals everything he has learned to Kevin. The commander confesses that the trip to Norfolk was for a test of the AirGuard missile defense system, which Powell's company was backing. He deduces that the sniper, a known Palestinian terrorist named Tariq Rabat, assassinated Kirkland over the Pentagon's large-scale defense cooperation with and weapons systems transfers to Israel.

Rick studies surveillance footage to find Serena while, with the help of Powell's security guards, Kevin continues his search for Julia. However, once they split up, it is revealed that Kevin is actually the fifth party and mastermind of the conspiracy. He kills the now-blonde Serena and Zietz (the man who signaled Tyler to go down) in order to prevent their further involvement with the help of his bodyguards. Kevin then enlists Tyler by revealing the truth to him.

Julia seduces Ned Campbell (David Anthony Higgins), a sleazy guest at the hotel, so she can hide in his room. Both Rick and Kevin discover this at the same time and give chase, but the detective reaches her first and takes her into protective custody. In a stairwell, Julia confesses that she is an analyst who worked on the AirGuard tests and discovered the results were faked to make the missile defense system look like it was working when it was actually way off; the system failed to work and she tipped off Kirkland to the deception. However, Kevin learned of her actions and arranged the entire conspiracy to kill both her and Kirkland, using Rabat's background as a rabidly anti-Israel terrorist to have him kill the SECDEF and then be immediately killed off himself. Rick learns of Kevin's involvement and, despite his initial refusal to believe it, quickly accepts the truth. After hiding Julia in a warehouse, Rick inspects the footage of a new floating camera and discovers proof of his friend's involvement.

Kevin confronts Rick and confesses that his motive was to prevent any further attacks on U.S. ships, similar to the one where he had to witness several sailors drown. He offers Rick one million dollars for Julia's location. When Rick refuses, Kevin has Tyler beat him up, but he still does not give in. Kevin plants a tracker on Rick and follows him to the warehouse just as a hurricane hits Atlantic City. When a tidal wave hits the boardwalk, Rick uses it as cover to rush Julia outside, where the police, tipped off by Rick, are waiting and witness the Navy officer opening fire. Cornered by the police and a news crew with no way out, Kevin commits suicide in view of the live news feed.

Rick is later hailed as a hero, but the press soon uncovers his corruption and he loses his job and family. Before reporting for his prison term, Rick meets Julia on the boardwalk. She thanks him for his help, as Powell is completely restructuring his company and scrapping the AirGuard. Rick promises to call when he gets out in twelve to eighteen months. Ultimately, Serena's ruby ring is seen embedded in one of the concrete pillars of the new Powell Millennium Arena.



Released on August 7, 1998, Snake Eyes debuted at No. 2 on its opening weekend (behind Saving Private Ryan), with $16.31 million., beating out the weekend's other wide release Halloween H20: 20 Years Later at $16.19 million.[3][4] It grossed $55.6 million in North America, and $103.9 million worldwide.[2]

The film received a 41% "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 66 reviews.[5][6][7][8][9] Many felt the film was not half as good as De Palma's 1981 film Blow Out. De Palma himself responded to the criticisms in an interview with Mark Cousins, "There's a lot of discussion in Snake Eyes about why do we reveal who did it so soon. Well, the problem is that it isn't about who did it. It's a mystery about a relationship, two people, and how finding that out affects their relationship...those kinds of procedural movies are extremely boring..."[10]


Award Category Subject Result
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actor - Suspense Nicolas Cage Won
Favorite Supporting Actor - Suspense Gary Sinise Nominated
Favorite Supporting Actress - Suspense Carla Gugino Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "De Palma Backing Down on 'Snake Eyes' Rating? Perhaps". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  2. ^ a b "Snake Eyes (1998)". Box Office Mojo. 1998-10-02. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Private Ryan Maintains Its Ground". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  4. ^ "Weekend Warrior 'Ryan' Fells Chiller and Thriller". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  5. ^ "What You See Is What You Get". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  6. ^ "Snake Eyes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  7. ^ "FILM REVIEW; In Atlantic City, Luck Is Certainly No Lady". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  8. ^ "Review: 'Snake Eyes' is not a sure bet". CNN. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  9. ^ "Snake Eyes". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
  10. ^ Scene By Scene: Brian De Palma [Television Production]. Scotland. 1998.

External linksEdit