Smokin' Aces starts as mob boss Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) puts a hit out on Las Vegas magician turned state informant Buddy 'Aces' Israel (Jeremy Piven) with instructions to cut out & return his heart. FBI agent Donald Carruthers (Ray Liotta) & his partner Richard Messner (Ryan Reynolds) are assigned to go to Lake Taho where Israel is hiding in the penthouse of the Newton Hotel, the race is on between various freelance assassins seeking the one million payout, bondsman Jack Dupree (Ben Affleck) after Israel for a skipped bond reward & the FBI as to who gets to Israel first. As people die it becomes clear to agent Messner that there is much more going on than a simple witness protection case...
This American, British & French co-production was directed by Joe Carnahan & to me is a British gangster flick wannabe, Smokin' Aces felt like an attempt to make a Guy Ritchie flick the US & while it's not a complete loss I must admit I didn't like it as much as many seem to. I found the script unnecessarily complicated, not complicated because I couldn't follow or understand it but complicated because at heart Smokin' Aces is a pretty simple film. A guy named Buddy 'Aces' Israel who has mixed with the wrong people wants to turn witness for the FBI & as such it's straight race between the good guy's & bad guy's to who gets to him first, that's really all there is too it & the numerous subplots & character's just slow things down & get in the way. I wouldn't mind so much if Smokin' Aces had the humour & twist's of a Guy Ritchie flick but they don't, in fact I was quite surprised at how serious Smokin' Aces takes itself. The amount of character's is another problem, there are too many & there are too many unlikable ones particularly that awful black woman with the sniper rifle. There's a lot of early exposition that bogs the film down & it's not always clear who or what is being spoken about, the twist ending isn't that great with a rather lame surprise & like the FBI & hospital would leave those two alone in a room together unguarded. At over an hour & forty minutes Smokin' Aces is quite long with only one big action scene & even that is just a shoot-out, the dialogue isn't as sharp or cool or referential or quotable as say a Quinten Tarintino or Guy Ritchie gangster flick (you know the ones I mean) & I simply didn't care for anyone or anything on screen at any time.
There are a few really silly over the top scenes & character's like the three Tremor brother's who surely wouldn't be that hard to track down & find if you were the police? The scene inside the house with the kid & Granny are also silly & feel out of place. The attitude of just about every character here towards everyone else is sheer callousness, even Agent Messner when all those FBI guy's get shot the only one he seem bothered about & tries to save is his partner. There's no soul or heart in Smokin' Aces & I found it hard to like & therefore care about anyone. Surprisingly short on action there's one big shoot-out otherwise it's fairly low key stuff & the film relies more on it's over complicated plot. As an action film there's not enough here & as a thriller it ties itself up in knots.
With a supposed budget of about $17,000,000 this was actually filmed in Lake Tahoe & Las Vegas. It looks nice enough the who feel of the film again tries to duplicate a Guy Ritchie flick with speed-ups, slow motions, frame skipping, split screen, people talking over other scenes, flashback revelations, impossible camera movements & the whole filming style just screams British gangster thriller. There's a decent cast here with singers Alicia Keys & Common making their acting debuts.
Smokin' Aces is a film I didn't like that much, sure it tells a story & it has a bit of style but it doesn't add up to much & the lack of action & dialogue heavy exposition slow it down too much too often. Followed by the direct to video sequel Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball (2010) which I have yet to see.
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Action / Comedy / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Mob boss Primo Sparazza has taken out a hefty contract on Buddy "Aces" Israel, a sleazy magician who has agreed to turn state's evidence against the Vegas mob. The FBI, sensing a chance to use this small-time con to bring down big-target Sparazza, places Aces into protective custody-under the supervision of two agents dispatched to Aces' Lake Tahoe hideout. When the word of the price on Aces' head spreads into the community of ex-cons and cons-to-be, it entices bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, deadly vixens and double-crossing mobsters to join in the hunt. With all eyes on Tahoe, this rogues' gallery collides in a comic race to hit the jackpot and rub out Aces.
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