Smokin’ Aces
Film Reviewed by Kam Williams


Hit Men Aplenty in Overplotted Mafia Comedy


Smokin' Aces (2007)

Rated R for sexuality, female frontal nudity, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs and graphic violence.
Running time: 109 minutes

Studio: Universal Pictures


Fair (1 star) - Smokin' Aces Film Review by Kam Williams

Buddy ’Aces' Israel (Jeremy Piven) was a two-bit magician with a mediocre lounge act until the Mafia turned him into a Las Vegas headliner. But instead of feeling indebted to mob boss Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) for the helping hand, the ambitious ingrate chose to start his own competing crime organization.

Initially, Aces met with a measure of success, and celebrated by overindulging in women and wine. At least until the Feds got the goods on him. Then, rather than spend the rest of his life in prison, he agreed to turn state's evidence. However, once word reached Sparazza that Aces was about to testify against him, the aging mobster took out a million-dollar contract on the back-stabbing stool pigeon.

And although the FBI tried to hide their prized witness for the prosecution in a penthouse atop a Lake Tahoe casino, word of his whereabouts still quickly spread on the street due to his inability to curtail his high-profile habits. So soon, all sorts of depraved degenerates descend on the city in search of the snitch in order to cash in on the big payday.

Smokin' Aces (2007) - Alicia Keys

That, in a nutshell, is the point of departure of Smokin’ Aces, an unapologetically gruesome revenge flick ostensibly inspired by Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. For it not only shares that picture's prevailing theme and a penchant for graphic sadomasochism but it even has a similar absence of a coherent plot and character development.

Nonetheless, writer/director Joe Carnahan deserves credit for catering to that crowd capable of appreciating a high attrition-rate adventure so long as the bodies continue to pile up. For, if you're willing to put your brain on hold, between beaucoup booty calls, bling and bulletry, Smokin’ Aces is certainly visually-captivating from start to finish. Just don't expect its storyline to be any more sophisticated than the typical gangsta’ rap video, and you won’t be disappointed.

Smokin' Aces (2007) - Peter Berg, Ben Affleck, Martin Henderson

Carnahan gleefully ignores the talents of an impressive ensemble in order to indulge in an unrelenting orgy of inconsequential carnage, thereby squandering the services of Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Peter Berg, Taraji Henson, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds in the process. Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that the movie marks the screen acting debuts of a couple of Grammy-winners, pop diva Alicia Keys and hip-hop artist Common, who acquit themselves quite capably in support roles as a pistol-packin’ assassin and a beefy bodyguard, respectively.

The film also features a rainbow coalition of scantily-clad models seen hanging around the hedonistic Aces like refugees from a Jay-Z video. These ’cinema hos' are on screen for no apparent reason except to be treated like sex objects before being ushered off with lines like: ’You went from Beyonce’ to Bigfoot.’   

Since, in the end, Smokin’ Aces unfortunately takes a bizarre departure in an unanticipated direction which makes little sense, it is not really recommended for the cerebral cineaste, but more for that demographic satiated by bloodlust alone.     


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