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Smokin' Aces

Smokin' Aces

Director:Joe Carnahan
Cast:Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Alicia Keys
Release Date:2007
Genre:Action, Drama, Suspense

By Bret McCabe | Posted 1/31/2007

Like his previous outing, Narc, you suspect writer/director Joe Carnahanís latest hyperstylistic crime saga gets dumped into theaters in January because studios donít know how to market it. A genius premise--a million-dollar bounty on a mob snitch summons the worldís most successful hit men--is set up via a whirlwind of genre overkill (split screens, FBI agents, Vegas mobsters, bail bondsmen, mob lawyers, backstory inserts, and lightning cross-cutting threading together nearly a dozen story lines) that resolves itself in gallows humor, ludicrous plot points, and unconscionable violence. And, as if to ensure Smokiní Aces has no 25-word quick pitch, Carnahan is, like his pulp writer kin before him, at heart an ethicist, praying for the proverbial honor among thieves in a world where even the straight stiffs have lost their way long ago. In a word, Aces is a mess--Jeremy Pivenís Buddy Israel is the Vegas magician turned mobster gone snitch hiding out in a Lake Tahoe hotel penthouse, sought after by FBI agents Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta, bails bondsman Ben Affleck, and hitters Alicia Keys, Taraji Henson, and some six others--but itís a flabbergasting, flamboyant, and oddly riveting mess that dredges up some truly indelible images (a trio of speed-freaked white-power skinhead assassins pouring out of an red-smoke-filled elevator in Road Warrior leather and Kevlar wielding, shit you not, machetes and a chain saw) and a surprisingly effective ending that 1) you see coming and 2) youíre not entirely sure the movie actually earns. And, yet, work it does.

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