Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1998. Paramount Pictures, DeBart, Touchstone Pictures. Story by Brian De Palma, David Koepp, Screenplay by David Koepp. Cinematography by Stephen H. Burum. Produced by Brian De Palma. Music by Ryûichi Sakamoto. Production Design by Anne Pritchard. Costume Design by Odette Gadoury. Film Editing by Bill Pankow.
Shady cop Nicolas Cage is enjoying front row seats at a boxing match when the politician sitting behind him is gunned down during the fight. Despite having been easy on the take in the past, Cage suddenly develops a conscience and decides to investigate the matter immediately, interrogating suspects and getting alternate perspectives on the moments surrounding the murder, each perspective delivered, Rashomon style, to the audience via Brian De Palma’s fancy camera angles. Cage eventually uncovers a conspiracy involving a weapons technology scam that has something to do with glamorous mystery woman Carla Gugino. De Palma’s highly entertaining thriller works at its best in the first two-thirds of the film, stiflingly set within the confines of the casino and stadium where the crime occurs, before spinning out of control and losing the audience’s interest with a weak ending and an easily foiled outcome. De Palma’s shameless technique-thievery, here lifting such elements as Orson Welles’ opening tracking shot from Touch of Evil (which was stolen to so much better effect by Robert Altman in The Player), isn’t as blatant as in his more recent films, allowing you to enjoy the twists of the story (and Cage’s hilariously gutsy performance) without constantly admiring what a geek the director is.