Smokin’ Aces – 1 & ½ Stars (out of 5)
Smokin’ Aces wasn’t the total disaster I was dreading, but it is certainly far from the fun thrill ride I’d been overly hopeful for. The pace and look of the film work, so does the cast, but when you rely on plot points that would look silly in the most amateurish comic book by depicting them as true in a real world setting, well that’s a problem – a big one. It’s not a complete waste of time, the film has a pace and energy that serves it well, but it’s far too flawed for my tastes.
Buddy “Aces” Isreal (Jeremy Piven) is a magician and wannabe gangster who has slowly managed to weasel himself into the uper echelon of the last great mob family. As the head of the crime syndicate (Joseph Rushkin) begins fade in his old age he puts out word he wants Israel’s heart. A million dollar hit is put out on the magician who then contemplates giving up everything and becoming a snitch to the F.B.I., if he can live long enough.
The movie shows a large group of hitmen all gunning for Israel. The group includes a pair of tough ass black chicks (Alicia Keyes, Taraji P. Henson), a trio straight out of The Road Warrior (Chris Pine, Kevin Durand, Maury Sterling), a caring hitman who once ate off his own fingerprints (Nestor Carbonell), and a mysterious Swede (Vladimir Kulich). There’s also a trio of bail bondsmen (Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Martin Henderson) who have their own plans for the magician.
All that are between these assassins and Israel are some mob muscle, two F.B.I. agents (Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta) running at least an hour behind, and the relative stupidity and laziness of the killers in taking their time to kill ol’ “Aces.”
The entire plot of the film is merely window dressing to allow writer/director Joe Carnahan to spank his monkey to the countless hot women, huge explosions, and piles of dead bodies.
I like good action flicks, but the violence needs to come from the story – not be there to cover up the lack of a good story. Neither the story nor the action scenes ever lead anywhere except to rising absurdity. The logistics of how Carnahan thinks both the F.B.I. and Organized Crime work aside, there are just too many moments where I found myself groaning “Oh come on!” at the screen.
The film ends with two twists. The first, the small twist, is actually a little clever and shines some light on the events of the film. The second is teased throughout the film so much so even a blind, mute, deaf man in a coma would have seen it coming – though this doesn’t stop a “big” reveal at the end which leads to the most laughable and impossible series of events to end the film that will leave you shaking your head for days. The best thing about this film was when it stopped getting worse, the only way it knew how, by ending.