Film: Video Watch
Friday 28 May 1999
Hunter S Thompson's narcotic-fuelled road trip through America's heart of darkness never read like it would make the transition to the big screen easily, and so it proves with Terry Gilliam's attempt. He doggedly tries to inject a bit of structure into the misadventures of journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), but Duke's assignment - covering a desert motorbike race - takes a distant second place to the pair's real agenda: the consumption of as many drugs as possible. Gilliam obviously feels he's on home turf here, exhaustively (and exhaustingly) detailing Duke and Gonzo's ingestion and its consequences. In the rush, he takes his eye off the book's satirical edge. No matter how deranged, the book was very much a reaction to its time. The US nursing its Sixties hangover, Watergate on the horizon... all of which Gilliam ignores for early-Seventies kitsch. That's a pity.
Snake Eyes (18) to rent
Nic Cage is a charismatic, but corrupt, Atlantic City cop. When, at a big boxing match, the Secretary of Defence is assassinated, he uses every trick in the book to dig his old friend, Navy bodyguard Gary Sinise, out of a hole. A conspiracy is simmering away, though, and Cage isn't quite as mugged up as he thinks. Nor is director Brian De Palma, for that matter. After an admittedly kinetic opening reel, his penchant for hi-tech showboating - surveillance camera footage, panoramic overheads - just distracts from the plot's weaknesses. It's all so mechanical, too - if Atlantic City is supposed to be such a sleazy free-for-all, how come this film runs on rails?
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