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Overall Rating
3.27

Awesome: 4%
Worth A Look52%
Average: 22.67%
Pretty Bad: 9.33%
Total Crap: 12%

8 reviews, 27 user ratings


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Smokin' Aces
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by U.J. Lessing

"Writer/director Joe Carnahan was smokin' something...."
2 stars

A failure, and an insignificant one at that. A plethora of mobsters, anarchists, hit men, hit women, FBI agents, bail bondsmen and Mafiosi descend upon a Lake Tahoe hotel. This throng of riffraff may be mildly entertaining, but they’re rarely likeable. They quibble, they negotiate, they scamper, they sneak, and they fire masses of bullets at each other, all the while failing to develop as characters.

At the center of the chaos is Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven), an egotistical Vegas performer who plans to rat out the Vegas mob. Piven is hanging out in the penthouse of a hotel throwing playing cards at prostitutes and waxing trash about how screwed up his life is. With a big price on Aces’ head and his whereabouts a known secret, it’s only a matter of time before someone whacks the guy, but who?

(Get it? It’s called “Smokin’ Aces” because the top assassins want to smoke or waste Aces. A double meaning…wow.)

I can understand why such high quality performers as Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds were attracted to this project. It’s a fun idea with a ton of potential. The problem is that writer/director Joe Carnahan went artsy, and we all have to suffer.

First, there’s the dialogue. Never have so many people said so many lines that have so little purpose. Characters talk and talk and talk and talk and never really have anything to say. The dialogue at times is clever, but it’s never purposeful, and it’s often delivered in a machine-gun fashion.

Every criminal has to have a quirk. That guy’s a cross-dresser. He’s a master of disguise. They’re Nazis. She’s a lesbian. Ooooh! A sadist. That old guy is not who he seems. Ridiculous cretins like these will make you long for the thoughtful characterizations of Boss Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe.

The FBI agents suffer from a different type of ailment: they’re all somber and gloomy. Ryan Reynolds spends the last 35 minutes with tear-filled eyes stumbling from one room to a next like a wounded fawn. Andy Garcia manages to be stuffy, bureaucratic and overbearing simultaneously.

A wonderful ensemble cast has been assembled, and sadly, all they can do is mug the camera or stare bleary eyed as they listen to interminable dialogue coming out of their colleagues’ mouths.

Only Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys are able to rise above the mess. As a pair of assassins, their scenes together are more compelling than all of the other characters combined. Of course, once the bullets start flying their performances are quickly drowned out by the noise.

Shallow violent films only work if they are fun, but unfortunately the convoluted plot of "Smokin’ Aces" doesn’t even strive for this simple goal. Carnahan creates a narrative that’s more complicated than the Colorado Tax Code, and throws in a twist that you will figure out about an hour before he wants you to.

Skip this one, and rent one of Guy Ritchie’s mob movies instead.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15570&reviewer=396
originally posted: 02/11/07 01:40:38
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User Comments

12/12/12 dinamts Loved it. Liotta is superb as always. 5 stars
9/21/12 Golden J. Williams Jr. Deeply engrossing, funny, bloody and violent with an intricate plot! 5 stars
3/03/11 chris c Strange Mix of black comedy, action and surprising depth 4 stars
11/12/09 Jeff Wilder Misses more often than it should. But when it hits, it hits. 3 stars
6/18/09 Monday Morning Best I've seen in a long time. Whaddaya want, reality? 4 stars
5/31/08 matt Great action movie with SUBSTANCE... dramatic and entertaining if a little disjointed 4 stars
2/17/08 SamanthaP it was lame with stupid dialogue and i loooved it! So violent!!! 4 stars
1/11/08 Wolfrider Horrible dialogue, WAY out-there plot; ultimately unsatisfying. 1 stars
9/17/07 K. Sear Pretty standard and dull. 3 stars
7/03/07 Tanya g Yuck, to unrealistic, 2 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Actioner shifts tones and often becomes bogged down in exposition. Great shoot-out, though. 3 stars
6/08/07 caiphn Wow. That sure fell apart in the last 40 minutes! 3 stars
6/07/07 Indrid Cold When will that annoying metallic, high-contrast cinematography go out of style? 3 stars
6/04/07 moms thought the newcombers did a good job at acting 4 stars
5/04/07 Jiz If the Hotel raid was made another 10-15 minutes longer, would have been gold. Letdown. 3 stars
5/03/07 Wesley Not spotless, but still absolutely insane. Highly reccommended. 4 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers if you like violence and profanity youwill love it. 5 stars
4/25/07 Rubberstamp Great lead up to well..nothing. Worth it for the Tremors 3 stars
4/17/07 ES Not crazy about the ending but a great movie none the less 4 stars
2/21/07 Denny Cinematography +5, Story -2 3 stars
2/18/07 lee if you can ignor reality for a few minutes, this is a gorgeously filmed entertaining film. 4 stars
2/09/07 Shobert Didn't they stop making Tarantino knock-offs years ago?? 1 stars
1/30/07 Jeremy Decent movie with lots of violence. Could've been better 3 stars
1/30/07 Luke I'd rate it at 2 and 1/2 stars if I could. Pretty dissapointed actually, but Keys was great 3 stars
1/29/07 Brian Mckay Doesn't quite live up to the hype, but not bad. 3 stars
1/29/07 Molly I would stand up for it. Piven = amazing. 4 stars
1/27/07 Nick Digilio Complete shit. Worse than Slevin, Domino and Running Scared combined 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Jan-2007 (R)
  DVD: 17-Apr-2007

UK
  12-Jan-2007 (18)
  DVD: 07-May-2007

Australia
  08-Feb-2007 (R)




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