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There is a new genre infesting our nation's movie theaters. With
apologies to Garrison Kellior, let's call it "guy noir". Films aimed
directly at the young, hip male audience. Movies that are an unholy
combination of old fashioned film noir and the modern action movie, as
directed by the class clown. They offer fast paced entertainment, great
character actors, twisty plot lines, explosions and more spent
ordinance than used in a typical week in Baghdad. Even new genres breed
clichés however and the original freshness heralded by Quentin
Tarantino's Pulp Fiction is beginning to smell the slightest bit stale.
This brings us to Smokin' Aces, a movie that isn't so smug as to be
intolerable or so brilliant as to be ground breaking. Rather it is
good, competent, workmanlike example of its genre, which is bad news
for a movie that wants to be hip and edgy.
Smokin' Aces has the requisite twisty plot. Actually it has at least nine plots, all twisty. In fact it has so many plots the movie dissolves into a series of incidences strung together by a smattering of narrative glue. Aces, a card magician and mob nabob, turns federal stoolie and a dying Godfather posts a high dollar contract on him. Naturally every photogenic hit-man with the weekend free descends upon Ace's casino penthouse to do the job and collect the dough. Smokin' Aces tries hard and includes everything needed to qualify as guy noir. It even tries to incorporate the "Tarantino Digression". That is, extended expository flashbacks incorporated for no good reason except that they are fun to watch. Smoking Aces can't quite pull these off as they require a defter touch than the movie is capable of.
There aren't any real people in Smokin' Aces. All the characters are strictly stereotypes played for effect rather than reality. Jeremy Piven as Aces is the self loathing hop head, Alicia Keys and Georgia Sykes are the hot lesbian hit team, Ben Afleck is the hipster bounty hunter and so on. Everything you need to know about these guys you learn in the first split second they are on the screen. There is no star in Smokin' Aces. Afleck, the biggest name, has a relatively small part and is upstaged by his hat. You might remember Chris Pine, Kevin Durand and Maury Sterling as the Tremor brothers if only because they were the loudest, most violent bunch in a loud violent movie. The only actor who rises above caricature is Ray Liotta, who invests his FBI agent with quiet dignity and a touch of pathos and in doing so sticks out like a sore thumb. It takes a strange sort of movie for a review to criticize the one genuinely good performance in it but Liotta just doesn't fit.
Smokin' Aces manages to hold its whirly gig self together for the most part. There are a few problems. It goes on too long after the climatic blood bath wrapping up plot threads you probably didn't notice amongst the explosions. There is a denouement where a hero, brought in from way out in left field, makes an existential choice that is not nearly as agonizing as the movie thinks it is because we have no emotional investment in the fellow making it. Though the final plot twist is prepared for and makes as much sense as anything else in the film, still it feels flat and unsatisfying. Think of Smokin' Aces as a shaggy dog story. It's long, involved and fun to listen to but ultimately goes nowhere.
I've read some of the reviews for this movie, and I can't agree with
them. I completely disagree in that I thought this was a very
entertaining movie. The concept was very well thought out but it wasn't
Basically, the movie was about several groups of assassins all gunning for the same man for the same price. The reason he is wanted dead is because of his snitching and deceitful ways. I'm not going to give anything away, but once you watch the movie you'll know there's a lot more behind that. Only thing you really need to do is pay as close attention as you can during the beginning, because it does get a little confusing. The story moves along pretty quickly, but you will get the gist of it.
Overall, I thought it was very well done. The plot was good, the characters were amazing (especially Ryan Reynolds), and there were some nice action parts. Even though it dragged on a little bit during the middle, it was necessary to develop plot details. 9 out of 10 stars from me; it was very entertaining and thought provoking. Last but not least, the white karate kid in the trailer was hilarious, "Why you eye-ballin' me son!?".
Smoking Aces is a film that tries hard, and in doing so is one that is
not going to be easy to describe. The basic plot revolves around the
central character "Aces" who is testifying against the mob, and in
return has a contract out on his head. Locked away in his suite in Las
Vegas, he is protected by the Fed, but there are multiple contract
killers (all different from each as can be imagined!) out to get him.
First hour seems to be stuck piecing the different contract killers together and their background, whilst the Fed are shown to be trying to figure out what is going on. No one set of actors though gets above the others, and in doing so you have multiple stories in the film tied into the whole premise of the film. Acting is great by the general assemble which includes fine performances by Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta.
Problematically, the film tries to be too cool at the start, and reminds me too much of "Things to do in Denver...." and so on. In addition, the film is really confusing at points but is worth persevering with nevertheless. The complexity makes it very original, and you never know where its going, but it wraps up together in the last 30mins which are more than worth the cinema ticket alone.
No classic, but enjoyable, original and interesting overall..
Here's another addition to anyone's list of definitive "guy flicks".
Compared to testosterone treats like Jason Statham's pair of
Transporter stints, this one offers a more complicated plot, fewer
explosions and chases, but more gruesome killings. Plus some fine
touches of grim humor, and a dash of eye candy. It comes from the
fertile, if demented, mind of Joe Carnahan, who struck first with the
cheapie hit Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane, before upgrading to
studio-quality crime drama in Narc. Arguably, he's the US doppelganger
for England's Guy Ritchie (Lox, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and
Snatch - both also featuring Statham), since he's less arty and
cinematically historical about showcasing mayhem than Quentin
Jeremy Piven plays a Las Vegas lounge star and gangster wannabe, who first endears himself to the Mob, runs afoul of the local Capo, then offers his testimony to the FBI in exchange for protection and profit. When the Mafiosi put a $1M price-tag on his head, hordes of hit persons (solos and teams, male and female, foreign and domestic; the EEOC would be more than satisfied with this field's diversity), some hired, others freelance, converge on the casino penthouse in Lake Tahoe where their quarry is "hiding", while his agent (gifted, yet underemployed, Curtis Armstrong) negotiates terms with the Feds.
The deep cast includes Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, Jason Bateman, Alicia Keys, and plenty of other familiar faces. Carnahan careens among multiple arenas of plotting, with FBI briefings filling in the audience and their agents on some of the players they're about to face, building to the inevitable chaos of competing factions converging on Piven and his legion of bodyguards, in what promises to be a dazzling display of carnage and comedy. The reality comes pretty close, with a couple of cool surprises along the way.
Unfortunately, Carnahan, like a certain US President who comes to mind, crafted his superb attack without a viable exit strategy. After the cosmic convergence, there's more exposition and anticlimactic wind-down than anyone needed, or the preceding frenzy deserved.
Enjoy the movie, fellas. But for those who wait (or double-dip), expect the DVD's extras to include at least one alternate ending, and several bloody and/or sexy deleted scenes that were axed for optimal running time, rather than lack of titillation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ray Ray Ray....did 'Revolver' teach you nothing?? For a man who was
once in a Scorsese movie, its hard to imagine he'd end up like
this....sunk to depths of the lowest degree. Well hopefully the reviews
this film will no doubt receive will teach Mr. Liotta a thing or two
about 'money over credibility', because this film is enough to
suffocate anyone's career. (And Affleck should be ashamed of himself...
wasn't 'Gigli' enough of a lesson!!!READ the Scripts in future Ben)
'Now thats what i call gangsters 2006'
Possibly a more fitting title for such a dire film.
Please allow me to elaborate
Think of possibly every single 'villian' cliché in cinematic history, presented to us in a rapid 'MTV' style manner, all after one guy, and all introduced to us within the first ten minutes of the film.
You've got Ace, (the guy they wanna kill because he double crossed the mafia, or something along those lines....it all becomes a blur after a while), the million members of the mafia (nice of them to explain what 'La Cosa Nostra' stands for right at the start, and then fail to explain anything else from that point onwards). and then comes the villains
In no particular order:
Some guy who takes on the deranged Hannibal lecter type character, (you gotta have the psycho), followed by the redneck Neo-Nazi brothers with the 'Mad Max' style attire, (and the inconspicuous chainsaws....discreet), Alisha Keys makes an appearance as the 'badass' street talking contract killer (thus bringing a more urban flavour to whole melting pot), you've got the eastern European master of disguise (who makes faces out of latex, and disguises himself as his dead victims...cunning)and a few other characters (who you soon forget about)...headache is the only way of describing this intro.
After half an hour you're still probably as perplexed as you where within the first five minutes, because nothing is clarified (fine...a linear narrative, as we know is not the be and and end of all of films), but some kind of coherence is surely a must.
Anyway in an over the top (being an understatement) way they all go to bring ace back to the mafia, trying to each get there before anyone else. The big twist (i say twist, although i really failed to care by this point), comes at the end when you find out the truth about why the mafia wanted ace really.
OK heres what i don't get:
The man who makes the faces from latex.....how on earth did he manage to kill Hugo, mould the guys face, let it dry, put it on, (powder it up with a bit of makeup), and get a wig identical to Hugo's actual hairdo...all in the space of what appeared to be no more than 10 minutes!
Alisha keys' character.....runs off with that guy who worked for Ace, after about 2 seconds of meeting him, and allows her 'friend' to get gunned down by police, whilst shes outside with prince charming arranging a date location!rather unfair.. and WHY was she not arrested????
why were there another lot of prostitutes coming to aces penthouse when about 6 had just left! has this man never heard of chlamydia!
This whole thing was very very laughable,especially the last part of the film with the '90's action movie' style blowing up and gunning down of everything in sight.
I'm sure this movie wishes it was a Tarentino, because it tries so hard to be cool...but we all know that when you try too hard it shows. It upsets me that people are even trying to find comparisons between this movie and 'Goodfellas', because its like comparing a Mcdonalds to fine French cuisine.
In Liotta's defence however, he was possibly the best thing about this mess of a movie. He just wasted his talents on such a bad movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think I have seen such a mess of a film before. I found myself
thinking "Will this movie pick up and get better... will something
happen that will somehow resurrect this trainwreck of a film... perhaps
if I just wait a little more...". It never happens - the film continues
to get worse until a final scene which is so embarrassingly bad it
hurts. I'm amazed that some people like this film.
Just to list some objectively bad points about this film: During the first ten minutes, characters names and jobs flash on the screen, again and again. They often flash too fast to read, and too often to remember how they tie to what is being said on screen. This is hugely irritating - you end up not bothering to remember and later wont have a clue who is referring to who.
Ben Affleck is rubbish in everything he's in. Always coming across like a middle-class nerd boy pretending to be cool. Dressed up like a tough guy, trying to talk tough, with sparkling white teeth.
So many ridiculous comic book characters are trying to kill the same person, you have no idea why, it doesn't make sense, and its so absurd that you just couldn't care less.
The guy who everyone wants to kill is a disgusting, slobby, boring & dull. Who cares what the hell happens to him.
The guy everyone is trying to kill is also a magician - part of me was hoping this would have some relevance somehow but it never did - was never used and another pointless idiosyncrasy thrown in for no reason at all.
The final scene tries so hard to suddenly become meaningful it hurts. Its impossible to care about any of the characters. The final scene, when you think about it afterwards, makes the rest of the film totally pointless and IT Doesn't make sense. Basically the reason the kingpin wants the guy dead is for a reason that doesn't lend well to any old assassination attempt - so putting a bounty on his head is totally stupid. This will make more sense if you have the torturous opportunity to see the film.
Urrgh what a waste of time and money, cinemas should have counsellors for this sort of experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie should get high marks for its style, but everything about
its style that is likable, was ripped off from Guy Ritchie. The plot is
sooo out there, that I can only imagine that the writer, director...
producers and pretty much every studio exec was doing more blow than
the characters in the film.
I got the distinct feeling that the ending was done in re-shoots. There are only two main characters in the entire ending. And the ending is basically Andy Garcia reading you the reveal, as one gigantic paragraph. Something tells me this was not the original ending.
At its best, the movie is a psychedelic, post-modernist romp through the crime genre. All the usual wash-outs and degenerates from the Mickey Spillane novels are here, but they have a 21st century spin to them. High high marks for Jason Bateman. His cameo appearance is almost worth the price of admission.
The violent scenes are pretty much the best part of the film, and some of them are genuinely tense. But they are filled with glaring holes. Time and again, cops and security guards fail to follow basic precautions and wind up getting killed for it. Alicia Keys and Ryan Reynolds are miscast. Andy Garcia! Holy cow, what does he call that accent? Southern/Boston.
Most of the pivotal events of the film are based around happenstance and freak luck. Without getting into the details, the ending is unbelievably hack and unimaginative. Put it this way, the emotional core of the story is based around a character that we never meet, except in flashbacks. And the inciting incident of the film (the hit being put on Israel) appears to have been a giant misunderstanding. (the guy said they wanted "Israel's heart". They construed that to mean they wanted him dead. But who put the million dollars in a swiss bank account and told every hit man in the Western Hemisphere that they could have it for killing him? Makes no sense) What a rip off!!
High Points: 1) Jason Bateman (is AMAZING, in fact I swear that when he is slapping high-fives in the hotel room, Ben Affleck is struggling to keep a straight face.) 2) The Neo-Nazi characters (even though it felt as though they had been lifted from Big Lebowski and The Road Warrior). Their malevolence is so gleeful that it's contagious. 3) Jeremy Piven's coked-out, paranoid Israel. If there is a shred of human emotional core to this film, this is it. He nails the character, both megalomaniacal and insecure. As his situation becomes increasingly desperate, he sinks further and further into self-delusion. The camera trains on his eyes and Piven somehow builds a universe of frailty inside. It's wonderful.
Low Points: 1) Andy Freakin' Garcia (yeesh!). Speaking of a universe of self-delusion. Watching an actor slip in and out of an accent is like listening to a guitarist play out-of-tune. But it is clear that Andy Garcia is utterly convinced of his own prowess. Sad. 2) Guy Ritchie rip-offs everywhere 3) Movie begins and ends with tons of back story given in paragraph form. Always a bad sign. 4) The sense of time is extremely distorted (I swear the skinheads were riding the elevator up to the penthouse for twenty minutes) 5) The cops and security guards in this movie are only one step above Keystone Cops. Bumbling idiots who fall for the flimsiest deceits. 6) There are at least five characters who take a ton of bullets, and somehow live through it. And when I say a ton of bullets, I'm talk ten to twenty at point blank range. One is difficult to believe, but it happens over and over again. 7) Everything about Alicia Keys' exit from the building is contrived and impossible to believe. 8) The writer and director seem to treat story like style and style like story. The story behind this movie is confusing at best and ridiculous and contrived at worst and serves only as a silly excuse to get Nazis and Lesbians and coke-heads and cross-dressers together for an orgy of violence and cool dialog.
Smokin' Aces was most certainly a bit of a magic show within itself, in
that while you watched the evident plot go one way, you didn't notice
the actual plot until BAM! it came out of nowhere. It wasn't the most
coherent of plots sometimes, but for the most part it all wraps up in
As far as greatness goes, this won't be up there winning awards. Rather, it might be remembered fondly as "that cool movie I saw a while ago." Good drama, good action. Ryan Reynolds breaks out in a truly serious and compelling role.
Definitely a movie worth viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Its very hard to sum up this movie in just a few words, but if i had
to, they would probably be OH MY GOD WHAT A PILE OF CRAP!
Really, im not kidding here, its rubbish! This film is slow, and i mean SLOW! Its a big build up to.... well.... nothing! The trailer (probably the best thing about the movie, whoever made the trailer is clearly a genius as he managed to make this film look interesting) made the movie look like an all out action film. Well, it isn't! In fact, when there is some kind of "action" sequence, they pull away! I mean there is one scene where you watch the FBI close in on a lift with smoke coming out of it, they cut away, and later come back to the FBI still watching it, it opens, they burst out and then........ it cuts away! Im not a person who goes to watch a film for its action, but an hour in the film i just wanted some sort of entertainment at least! And people kept dying... then coming back to life! That happened too many times
The dialogue is appalling! The writer has clearly watched a few gangster movies and a couple of sopranos (best series ever) and thinks he can write a mafia movie! well he cant! Its very annoying!
OK, so the story. well in the first 10 minutes you learn that there is a man and everyone wants to either save or kill him. Then.... nothing, until the very last 5 minutes. I mean what the hell happened in the middle! it wasn't story, or action, or entertainment! it was just a build up to nothing (or at most some very dull, unimpressive scenes) !
So the acting. ray liotta seriously needs a good script! he is really putting himself down with these movies. Affleck was good, as always, but once again he needs a decent script behind him.
The good thing about this film (there are 2) is that ryan reynolds is doing something a little different to his normal gig. And he managed to do something i didn't expect at all, he impressed me. He proved that he has potential to be a good actor. The other good thing was a cameo from mathew "jack from lost" fox. Which i enjoyed
Anyway, i don't want to end this review on a positive note, as i don't want to encourage people to see it at all. This is a boring, pointless, poorly written movie with no story or emotion that will leave you angry that you had wasted your time watching it
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here we have Joe Carnaghan the writer/director of Narc? They say that
human cloning has not yet taken place but this film may be the proof we
were looking for. This just can't be the same Joe Carnaghan can it. He
must be a doppelganger who has no idea about writing, direction and
There hasn't been such a jumbled mess on the screen since Revolver and unfortunately both Ritchie and Carnaghan have proved that too many characters doesn't help! However these actors are struggling with a garbled plot which has a twist at the end (two in fact) which were so see through that they were obvious from the beginning. Possibly the way the actors laboured over the "heart" line and following this the flashback story which was levered in for one reason and one reason only and therefore (although stylishly shot) must be relevant to the main plot.
Performances are not bad given all these things but none of the characters are particularly likable for any reason. People die, you're not bothered. People predictably revive to do one last thing, you don't care. It's bloody, not gory, if you like that thing - which I have to say I don't mind - but I was so non plussed.
I think you can always get some positives out of a film and the score wasn't bad at all and some scenes were passable.
But did anyone find the karate kid just annoying. The people in the row behind me certainly did and I have to say I was in complete agreement!
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