Featured Posts

Feb 10, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Smokin' Aces

Alright, let's get this out of the way quickly. Yes, Smokin' Aces is very Tarantino-ish. Specifically, it almost feels as the plot was derived from the final third of True Romance, complete with an "I need a medic" line that felt like an homage to Tarantino and/or Romance director Tony Scott (I'll forgive you for not remembering that specific line/scene from Romance - you'll just have to trust me, though.) Likewise, characters seem ripped from Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown as well.

However, I'm not here to rip Aces director Joe Carnahan as being a Tarantino wannabe. Anything but. While pieces of Aces do in fact feel familiar/lifted from the above-mentioned films (as well as a few others), the film stands on its own as a terrific piece of pop culture.

The plot is nothing too extravagant: The white whale of snitches (Jeremy Piven as Buddy "Aces" Israel) has a million dollar price tag on his head (with a time limit), and the nastiest, toughest and best hitmen are onto his scent. Everything will culminate on the pentehouse floor of a Lake Tahoe hotel/casino, with the FBI and a group of bounty hunters in on the chase, too. Throw in some double crosses, colorful characters (inbred skinhead trio, black (possibly) lesbian hitwomen, eurotrash assistants, gaggles of prostitutes, etc), plot twists and some magic (literally) and you have a winning combination.

The eclectic cast certainly doesn't hurt the film's prospects. Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta (the star of Carnahan's previous feature, Narc) are FBI agents assigned to track down and protect Israel. Alicia Keys plays one of the aforementioned hitwomen, Jason Bateman a sleazy lawyer, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg and Martin Henderson are the bounty-hunting trio, and so on and so forth. Add in Common, Andy Garcia, and about 50 "That Guys" (plus one hilarious cameo from a well-known TV star playing a security chief) and your head will be spinning. There's even a confirmed Booger sighting (so nice to see Curtis Armstrong back again in high profile mainstream films - I feel an odd sense of pride for him when seeing him - it couldn't have been easy to live down that role/reputation when looking for jobs.).

Above all else, this is a fun picture (and looks like it was a fun one to make). It skips the gravitas of your standard fare mobster movies and just decides to go right for your jugular. Mission accomplished.

85 out of 100

0 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Smokin' Aces"