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Movie Review: Smokin’ Aces

Smokin’ Aces
Written and directed by Joe Carnahan

Joe Carnahan’s Narc was such a pulse-pounding treat, I eagerly anticipated his next film, which was supposed to be Mission: Impossible 3 before conflicts with Tom Cruise. Five years later, he finally comes out with another movie, this a bit of a mish-mash of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, True Romance, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

A mafia bigwig named Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) wants another mafia guy and potential rat Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven) dead, even wants his heart. It’s a cool million for the task, something a ton of assassins would like to get their hands on. FBI agents Richard Messner (Ryan Reynolds) and Donald Carruthers (Ray Liotta, who was in Narc) have to fly to Israel’s Lake Tahoe penthouse and make sure he gets into the right hands, but that isn’t going to be easy.

Bail bondsman Jack Dupree (Ben Affleck) and his crew including Pete Deeks (Peter Berg) and Hollis Elmore (Martin Henderson) are in charge of Israel’s move, but have plans on making the million themselves, with help from Rip Reed (Jason Bateman). There’s also a couple of gun-totin’ sistas in Sharice Watters (Taraji P Henson) and Georgia Sykes (Alicia Keys), a trio of crazy-ass don’t-give-a-fuck killers named the Tremor Brothers (Chris Pine, Kevin Durand, Maury Sterling), a disguise specialist named Lazlo (Braveheart’s Tommy Flanagan), and a tough-as-nails hitman, Pasquale Acosta (Nestor Carbonell).

Over time, the FBI’s approach to the case is changed, and boss Stanley Locke (Andy Garcia) doesn’t inform his men of it. Hmm, why?

Smokin’ Aces is pretty fun, but it’s entirely too busy for its own good. Movies like this can be tremendous if they take their time, but it’s an assault of the senses, approaching Tony Scott’s Domino in jarring editing and camera moves. An example of bad filmmaking, in my opinion, is when Liotta and Reynolds are in the van listening to the assassination plot. Instead of quietly listening to this conversation (and allowing us to hear it fully), Liotta and Reynolds keep commenting back and forth, “These guys have balls!” or “These guys aren’t messing around!” when a simple glance or gesture would have sufficed.

But that’s our generation right now; every little thing has to have some sort of jolt, or rush, or whiz-bang to it, and Aces suffers greatly for it. There are some neat gun battles, some scenes filled with quirk (which I enjoy every once in awhile), but I thought the ending was pretty stupid. Overall, it’s an average flick.


Comment from KW
Time: January 26, 2007, 5:07 pm

Geez, can you compile the obviously short list of actors who are NOT in this movie?

Comment from The Projectionist
Time: January 26, 2007, 5:21 pm

Yeah, I didn’t even mention Curtis Armstrong (Risky Business, Revenge of the Nerds) or pop star Common. I was half expecting Al Pacino to come storming out at some point. Well, there is Ocean’s 13, which is also going to overload on stars.

Comment from Lori
Time: January 29, 2007, 6:28 pm

Yeah, pretty much what I figured. Too bad. I forgot that Carnahan was Narc’s director…that was a great little flick.

Comment from Lori
Time: January 29, 2007, 6:33 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention—I’m glad I’m not the only one who puts Domino in the category of worst offenders for the whole ‘assault on the senses’ brand of filmmaking. I usually dig Tony Scott’s work just as fun, action-y fluff…but Domino was truly horrible. Shame, too…it could’ve really rocked out if he’d just done it right.

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