Is this a great film? No, not by a long shot. However, I challenge anyone out there to find me another movie that turns clowns into exploding projectiles of destruction. Seriously. I kid you not. I have never seen a movie that had this particular tool at their disposal, but if you know of or can find another one, please let me know as I definitely want to see it.
Before arriving on home video, this film had its sub-title changed from Blowback to Assassins' Ball. It is a small thing, but I have to ask why? I don't think it has anything to do with marketability. I cannot say I really care one way or the other, but I do have to say that after seeing the film — heck, after the first bit of this prequel — the Blowback tag makes a lot more sense. Besides, that is how it is referred to in the commentary track by executive producer Joe Carnahan and director P.J. Pesce.
It was three years ago that director Joe Carnahan (exec producer here) first brought us the world of Smokin Aces. Not for a moment did I think it would spawn a sequel, although I am not surprised by it. The film was an exercise in style over substance, a movie about a hit played out by over-the-top characters where the interest was in the bullet ballet rather than the target. It was an enjoyable film that was helped by a bevy of stars that included Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, Common, and an up and coming Chris Pine.
This prequel does not have the star power behind it, the biggest name being Tom Berenger, a former Oscar nominee who's been in films for a long time but whose stock is not quite as high as it used to be. Case in point, I told a friend about this film and when I mentioned Berenger starred in it, he responded "Who?" So, the movie is going to live or die based on the franchise status and word of mouth.
So, is it any good? No, not particularly. With that said, it still has a certain style and over-the-top feel that makes it more fun than your typical direct to video fare, but that is about as far as it goes. If you want a good story, this is not going to fill your cup, but if you are looking for a half hour or so of setup followed by about a half hour of action closing with a 15-minute recap where all is revealed, this is for you. Although, the only thing really worth watching is the 30 minutes of action.