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Overall Rating
3.24

Awesome: 3.95%
Worth A Look51.32%
Average: 22.37%
Pretty Bad: 9.21%
Total Crap: 13.16%

8 reviews, 28 user ratings


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Smokin' Aces
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by Doug Bentin

"Watch this one and you’ll feel like the characters in “Reefer Madness” look"
4 stars

This is another of those urban fairy tales in which Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe substitute for Once Upon a Time in a Kingdom Far Away. Crime novelist Ross Macdonald called Vegas “Disneyland for the mob,” a nice phrase, but the city hasn’t really been that for a long time except in movies like this.

A lot of people are comparing “Smokin’ Aces” to the films of Quentin Tarantino, which isn’t unfair but it isn’t totally accurate either. Let us not forget that first there were the Coen Brothers, and before them the novels of Elmore Leonard. I suspect that one of Leonard’s literary descendants, Tim Dorsey, may have a lot to do as well with the manic nihilism of this mobster hitman caper on speed.

Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”) is a Las Vegas magician who, when he revels in his secret identity, is also a big time mobster. The Feds have been chipping away at the mob for years, and now in order to protect himself before the ship goes down, Buddy has agreed to rat out his criminal colleagues in exchange for a life in the witness protection program. Word of this gets out and one of the mob bosses puts out a hit on “Aces” at the same time the Feds want to pick him up and a pair El Lay bail bondsmen, Jack and Pistol Pete (Ben Affleck and Peter Berg), start looking for him. They meet with a mob lawyer named Rip Reed (Jason Bateman, whose underwritten character still manages to shoplift his brief scenes) while every hitman, and hitwoman, on the Left Coast comes roaring into town.

Bullets fly, knives flash, and people are lying around dead or dying all over the place. And did I mention that it’s a comedy?

The film is cluttered with stories—this thing has more plots than a cemetery—and recognizable faces. Andy Garcia is Locke, the FBI assistant director; Ray Liotta is Carruthers, the experienced FBI agent, and Ryan Reynolds is Messner, his hot shot partner; Alicia Keyes makes her feature film acting debut as Georgia, teamed with Taraji Henson as Sharice, a pair of bloodied but unbowed hitpersons; and Matthew Fox (“Lost”) is the chief of hotel security. Also in on the kill are the Tremor Brothers, a trio of neo-Nazi boneheads so stupid they make your average turkey look like Stephen Hawking (Chris Pine, Kevin Durand and Maury Serling), a sadistic killer (Nestor Carbonell) and master of disguise (Tommy Flanagan) thrown in just to give the “Mission: Impossible” franchise a kick in the cobblers.

Written and directed by Joe Carnahan, who performed the same duties for “Narc” a couple of years ago, “Smokin’ Aces” attempts a little too much. It doesn’t matter that the movie is overloaded with characters—we’re not really supposed to care anything about any of them—but a couple of these human time bombs are so well presented by their actors we do want to learn more about what make them tick.

And Carnahan occasionally comes up with a concept he likes well enough to leave in although there’s no reason for its inclusion. We meet briefly a loud-mouthed, wacko granny and her Ninja obsessed, Ritalin swallowing grandson. His father, we learn, is in prison for “sodomy, torture, and writing bad checks.” Their episode is funny, but it doesn’t go anywhere or add to the main storyline, and stuff like this is going on all the time.

So “Smokin’ Aces” is immature, violent, profane, over-caffeinated and hyperbolic fun. Plus, there’s a character listed in the end credits who’s just named “Naked Prostitute.” The actress is Janet Edwards, and I don’t know what they paid her but she’s worth every penny.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15570&reviewer=405
originally posted: 02/16/07 06:25:09
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User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell it sucked the twist at the end 2 little 2 late 1 stars
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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