Smokin' Aces (2006)
"Smokin' Aces" is neither smokin' nor ace.
27 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Someone help me - has Ryan Reynolds ever been in a good movie? "Blade: Trinity," "The Amityville Horror" and now "Smokin' Aces," a nasty, brutish but sadly not short movie that isn't remotely as funny or as thrilling as it thinks it is. And it can forget about stylish either.

Writer-director Joe Carnahan's bid to give the movie style is its biggest problem; an essentially simple story of the FBI, skiptracers and assassins all after a Las Vegas entertainer-turned-snitch (Jeremy Piven) is subjected to endless stretching out, fantastically annoying touches - way too many connecting scenes have one sentence carried over to another, there are far too many characters and too few of them given any room to grow, and moments that want to be quirky but just grate (why do we have to see Jason Bateman wearing women's underwear? What is the point of a small boy giving karate chops and getting an erection?) - and utter, utter stupidity; "Smokin' Aces" is the kind of movie where three bad guys who look like a punk rock group manage to get into a hotel without anyone seeing them.

Meanwhile, while Carnahan's indulging himself (note how many of the scenes go on longer than necessary, like Matthew Fox's cameo) the movie's few moments of interest are lost, and the actors are left struggling with their receptacles for profanity - as opposed to proper characters. All of which makes the movie both hypercharged and boring; it just doesn't matter whether or not they get to Piven's character, you just find yourself wanting to say "Oh for goodness' sake just END already." On the upside, Ben Affleck is pretty good in his glorified cameo (before getting abruptly killed off) and Alicia Keys does quite well as a sultry lesbian assassin. (Her contribution is entirely acting-related.) The movie's ultimate payoff would also probably be more effective had the movie been shorter, or better developed.

But since it ain't, all this movie is is, as Chief Wiggum once said, "Lots of flash - no depth."
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