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Movie Review: Smokin’ Aces

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Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of finally going to the movies after almost a month of celluloid deprivation. Too bad the pleasure ended when I sat down in front of the screen. I watched a double feature, Epic Movie first, then Smokin' Aces.

We will look at Smokin' Aces first, not because of it was any better, but because I want to get them both over with so I can get to the two films I saw last night on DVD that were actually entertaining.

This film was, simply put, a mess. It had so much going on that it became difficult to follow the 'action' to its conclusion. It was also pretty easy to figure out most of the so called 'twists'.

Heck, if you have watched much television you will be able to figure out most of the things that are going on, which is a dang shame since this cast should have been able to bring almost any turkey to full roast. Here, however, they are hampered by a script and plot that are simply too obvious to really enjoy.

Dealing with a plan to kill a mob snitch named Buddy "Aces" Israel and steal his heart for an aging mobster, the story brings in several different teams of killers, including one enigmatic character named "The Swede."

Throughout the film, the characters just go on and on about what you have already seen on the screen. It just gets boring after a while. There were only three people who really held your attention, the two cops played by Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds, and one of Israel's entourage named Ivy. These folks showed emotion, style, and grace in a film where style and grace were often found lacking.

These actors went beyond their scripted characters and came across as human, becoming more then just the characters, but interesting people — people you might almost like to know. Almost everyone else came across as extras or the no-name characters you often see lurking about in a restaurant or audience in a TV series or movie.

And while the other people tried to seem calm and collected they instead came across in a monotonous tone, sleepwalking through their lines, turning a 'serious' film into almost a parody of itself. Which is not a good thing.

You have the standard 'cop movie' characters, the bail bondsmen/ex-cops, the master of disguise, the black gangsta girls, the limited intelligence rednecks, the cops who actually care about justice, and the dumb, just-shoot-the-other-guy gangsters who work for Israel. In some ways, the guys who work for Israel – two black guys and a Russian guy with an IQ of about four – are the epitome of racial and ethnic stereotyping and I don't understand why no one has complained about them yet.

Like I say, predictable and uninteresting. Go rent Boondock Saints, or even Oceans Eleven. Either version.

Smokin' Aces is a complete waste of time. There might be 15 minutes of good acting and worthwhile movie viewing time. Outside of that, just hit yourself with a hammer. It will hurt, but it will still be more fun then this movie.


Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Writing credits: Joe Carnahan
With: Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Joseph Ruskin, Andy Garcia, Alex Rocco, Wayne Newton, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Peter Berg, Ryan Reynolds Martin Henderson, Christopher Michael Holley

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