Thursday, May 10, 2007

Me Mini Movie Review Smokin’ Aces

As a fan of Joe Carnahan’s excellent neo-noir Narc, I was looking forward to seeing his new directorial effort, Smokin’ Aces. It revolves around an FBI witness holed up in the penthouse suite of a hotel and the deluge of various assassins that descend to kill Buddy “Aces” Israel in order to collect the 1 million dollar bounty on his head. The FBI needs to keep him alive to make their case against a powerful, yet aging, mob boss. From the trailer, it looks like all hell then breaks loose as bullets fly. There is an incredibly diverse ensemble cast in place as well: Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Alicia Keys, Jason Bateman, Andy Garcia, and more.

Now, first of all, I enjoyed the movie. The trailer was a bit of a miss sell of it though, as it made it look like nothing more than a slam bang, bullet laden, action fest. In fact, every character gets their moment – even the most minor (what was with the Ritalin Karate Kid?). The various character setups come pretty quick, along with a lot of fast dialogue (with some great lines), during the first hour of the movie as all the players are introduced and brought together to the focal point of the hotel. Then as the action hits and the bullets fly, it’s an all out blast to the end to see who makes it and who doesn’t. There are some twists that come along to keep things interesting, but if you’re paying attention at the beginning, you’ll see most of them coming. There is an actual story here, and a good one, but if you go into it just waiting for the action, you may be more than a little confused. There’s a half decent plot going here if you’re watching for it.

The acting is excellent from the main players, although there is some needless over the top mayhem from some of the more peculiar assassins. Ray Liotta is of course stellar as always, along with a good non-comedic role performance from Ryan Reynolds as the two FBI agents trying to get to Aces first to keep him alive. They provide most of any gravitas of the movie. Andy Garcia brings his usual touch of class to any film as the FBI boss concerned with the greater good. The two surprises for me were the performances from rapper Common (who I’d never heard of prior to this) and singer Alicia Keys. Common has a great moment when he confronts his boss Aces about loyalty, and even though he was technically one of the ‘bad guys,’ he had me pulling for that character. Keys showed that she may have a decent future on the big screen, being the character and not just another singer trying to be an actor.

For what I expected to be a Tarantino-esque, shoot ‘em up, over the top, violent movie, it turned into an unexpectedly good story about loyalty and betrayal. Joe Carnahan certainly plays the odd character moments up, and there is plenty of blood letting violence as the bodies start to fall in the hotel climax, but he shows a solid noir sensibility and manages to show us Ryan Reynolds can do more than crack the funny quips. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s a fun ride.

Verdict: Recommended for Tarantino or Neo-Noir fans.
Rated: R (It’s for a reason, people. Not for kids)

Comments on "Me Mini Movie Review Smokin’ Aces"


Anonymous Marina said ... (May 10, 2007 12:27 PM) : 

Oh good! I missed this one completely when it came to theaters and for weeks I couldn't get my hands on it at the video store. It's been siting on my coffee table for a week (Blockbuster has been hounding me to return it) and now I'm really looking forward to it! Maybe tonight!


Blogger Eaglewing said ... (May 10, 2007 1:37 PM) : 

Good ol' Blockbuster - good of you to take advantage of their no late fees :) Let me know what you think of movie...


Anonymous originallru said ... (May 31, 2007 3:08 PM) : 

I finally got to see this one, and I liked it a lot. Not much more than I can add to your review, which was quite good.

I liked the female assassin duo characters the best, and how that story played out.

Moral of the movie: always have an exit strategy. :-)


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