Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Smokin' Aces (2007)

* *

Smokin' Aces runs 108 minutes; edit out 45 or 50 minutes and you have a good movie. Trailers made Aces appear to be a fun, stylish action/comedy and the first half of the movie is just that. The second half of the movie, however, completely falls apart leaving an unlikely, unimaginative, and disappointing resolution with heaps of useless violence. The idea of hit men and cops both after a snitch to wipe him out or keep him afloat, respectively, is a good idea that should have worked. Don't fault the actors for the collapse. Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame plays the Vegas showman turned drug dealing gangster wanna-be turned rat. The character seems like a strung out Ari Gold that finally gave up chasing Vincent Chase around and succumbed to women and cocaine, but is that a bad thing? Ryan Reynolds, who plays one of the cops chasing Buddy "Aces" Israel, can actually be taken seriously for decent acting, which surprised me more than any of the plot twists. Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, and Ray Liotta are all above average characters, and Common and the beautiful Alicia Keys both shine in their first appearances in a major Hollywood release. The story is presented in stylish text, quick cuts and short scenes that provide a fast moving plot. Even the soundtrack is put together well with a mix of old and new selections. Unfortunately, after about an hour the writing begins to fall apart until it is riddled with bullets just like most of the characters in the movie. Writer-director Joe Carnahan, who made the above average crime film Narc, attempts to tie many unrelated characters together and resolve a plot full of holes in the last forty minutes. In doing so, he rips off True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs, and more while providing absolutely nothing of substance or artistry. Watch this movie for an hour of fast-moving dialogue between interesting characters as they pursue Buddy Israel. About an hour in, shut off the movie and make up your own conclusion. Trust me, it will be more satisfying than the "is that it? who cares?" ending to Smokin' Aces.

Good For: Jeremy Piven fans, drunk people

Bad For: people upset by violence

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