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smokin' aces
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Smokin Aces

Starring Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Peter Berg, Brian Bloom, Sharon Bruneau, Common (more)
Directed by Joe Carnahan
website: www.smokinaces.net

IN SHORT: avoid. [Rated R - for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use. ]

Let us recall the old kids game called King of the Mountain (or King of the Hill or Dump doody on the peons, depending upon your age when you first encountered it <g>)

Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a two bit, mob connected professional Las Vegas magician who we are told at the beginning of Smokin' Aces, is the man solely responsible for providing all the information the Feds need to take La Cosa Nostra out back and bury 'em all in the desert, so to speak. Two problems with that scenario though. Buddy is holed up in a penthouse on top of one of Vegas' brand spankin' new casino hotels (the Nomad) and everybody in town knows he's riding what will probably be the final bender of his life. The Mob has dispatched several sets of killers to take Buddy out. The FBI has sent its own teams into the Nomad, determined to get to the penthouse first and protect the witness. So. The mob wants Buddy dead. The FBI wants the Mob dead first. The mob therefore also wants to snuff the Feds. Whichever Cosa Nostra team manages to attain the ultimate goal will get a million dollars cash. Unless maybe one of the FBI teams goes rogue and . . . ah, who are we kidding. Smokin Aces is a one sentence pitch: "Everybody wants to kill Buddy Aces, a man so strung out on smack he couldn't save himself if he tried . . . so the good guys take out the bad and vice versa and everybody dies with spurting geysers of choreographed blood work.

87 minutes of gratuitous killing then 40 more as a very special ending for Smokin Aces introduces not one but two plot twists, which are explained to the audience in a mind numbing monolog that acting students will be snapping up like turtles. Don't expect really big surprises. We figured out one of 'em ten minutes into the first 87 and then wished we had a walkman or something to keep us busy until something resembling a plot struggled to the top of the big stinking pile of what passes for a story.

At least Tarantino developed good characters and dialog before devolving some of his situations into badly in need of editing, gratuitous kill sequences.

To be kind, it was a mess. I think having an overenthusiastic writer/director run rampant over a project it (usually) not a good thing, but that's the case here. Regardless of "why" any of the cast -- great names in the cast, no complaint there -- non-stop blood shed is starting to bore me just as the non-stop expletives did in Alpha Dog.

The positive? The double twist at the end -- I put it in my notes as 87 minutes of gratuitous killing and 40 more explaining the whole thing and dropping the big twist on the audience. The problem with that? I figured out at least one of the twists an hour before it was "explained"

Watching the audience, though? There was a good number of walk outs, and not just the elderly folk who always seem to be on the reg'lar peoples guest list.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Smokin' Aces , he would have paid . . .

$1.00

I'm being kind . . . rent it if you must OR, FOR THOSE YOUNG ENOUGH to light up and not care about wasting the ten spot, and we're not even trying to be sbtle about this 'cuz you know who you are [and we once were...] IF the dope is incredibly good, it's far too good to waste on this waste BUT if you're dumb enough to do so, the weed may screw up your mental facilities to such an extent that you don't figure it out early and can thus enjoy the bloodshed. You will. You know you will . . .

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.