Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Brian DePalma directed this taut thriller, set in Atlantic City, where a corrupt cop investigates a political assassination. Outside an Atlantic City arena-hotel-casino, a TV news reporter stands in a pre-hurricane storm to report on the heavyweight boxing match about to begin inside. A transition to the stadium interior focuses on Atlantic City homicide Detective Rick Santoro (Nicolas Cage), a father with a wife and son, yet also a dishonest cop who maintains a mistress and cheerfully accepts bribes. DePalma's Steadicam follows Santoro on a fast-paced tour of the stadium as the laughing, yelling detective travels stairs and hallways, talks to a gal with a between-rounds placard, visits the dressing room of champ Lincoln Tyler (Stan Shaw), rides down an escalator to squeeze money from a small-time hood, enters the arena of 14,000 fight fans, talks on his phone with his girlfriend and wife, and sits ringside next to his lifelong buddy, Navy Cmdr. Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise). Behind Dunne, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani) is seated alongside billionaire casino owner Gilbert Powell (John Heard). As the fight gets underway, Dunne abandons his position protecting the defense chief to pursue a suspicious redhead. From his ringside vantage point, Santoro has a close view of the champ, curiously conscious despite taking a kayo punch. At that moment, an assassin fires at Kirkland. Santoro immediately concocts a good cover story for his pal (to explain why Dunne left his post protecting Kirkland). Just after the shooting, Dunne kills a Palestinian extremist, the apparent killer, and Santoro orders the stadium doors locked, hoping he can locate other suspects among the fleeing crowd. One such is Julia Costello (Carla Gugino), an injured woman in a blond wig who spoke with Kirkland seconds before the gunfire. After a video replay reveals the champ took a fall, going down to the floor from a punch that never touched him, Santoro becomes more curious and suspicious, comparing witness accounts, and he attempts to locate Julia, convinced she's the key to truth behind the assassination. As it all comes to a head, Santoro peels through successive layers of corruption, ultimately confronting himself in a self-examination of his own values. Filmed at Montreal's old Forum.
assassination, boxing, corruption, police-officer, witness