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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Smokin’ Aces

Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys play assassins Sharice and Georgia in the comedy crime thriller Smokin’ Aces, directed by Joe Carnahan.  Photo courtesy Universal Pictures
Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys play assassins Sharice and Georgia in the comedy crime thriller Smokin’ Aces, directed by Joe Carnahan. Photo courtesy Universal Pictures

By Devin Rogers/reporter

Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys play assassins Sharice and Georgia in the comedy crime thriller Smokin’ Aces, directed by Joe Carnahan.  Photo courtesy Universal Pictures
Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys play assassins Sharice and Georgia in the comedy crime thriller Smokin’ Aces, directed by Joe Carnahan. Photo courtesy Universal Pictures

Smokin’ Aces is a fun ride but ultimately flawed action-thriller from director Joe Carnahan.

Carnahan directed the 2002 indie cop drama Narc, starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patric.

His latest is an outrageous bloodbath that most definitely deserves the label of “Guy Flick” and should reside on the same shelf as last year’s Running Scared and Crank.

Smokin’ Aces 
certainly isn’t Shakespeare, nor does it pretend to be.

Jeremy Piven (of TV’s Entourage) plays Buddy “Aces” Israel, a washed-up, has-been Las Vegas magician at night and a strung-out cokehead with a hotel penthouse littered with hookers by morning.

Buddy turns from celebrity to goodfella, working hand-in-hand with the Vegas mob.

When the relationship turns sour, he decides to sell them out to the FBI.

Before he can testify, the mob puts a million-dollar bounty on his head, so the Fed’s decide to stash Buddy under witness protection in a high-level penthouse in a hotel in Idaho.

But hiding him isn’t nearly enough to stop a bunch of psychotic hit men (and women) from scheming to pop-off Buddy and claim the bounty.

The roster of hungry, bloodthirsty killers includes a pair of female assassins, Sharice and Georgia (played by Taraji Hensen and Alicia Keyes).

Also out for the reward are a pair of ex-cops and a bail bondsman played by Martin Henderson, Peter Berg and Ben Affleck, a twisted Spanish killer who specializes in torture.

Lazlo Soot plays a killer with a talent for using disguises.

Then we have the Tremor Brothers: Darwin, Lester and Jeeves, a trio of redneck, neo-Nazi psychotic hillbillies who are probably more fun and amusing to watch than the entire cast of Kill Bill.

These guys live for chaos and murder and are the human incarnation of anarchy.

On the other side of the law we have Ryan Reynolds trying to stretch his acting chops beyond comedic work and veteran actors Ray Liotta and Andy Garcia as FBI agents with the task of keeping Buddy alive until trial.

The marketing of Aces makes it appear to be nothing more than non-stop mayhem and action, but that’s not really the case.

The film spends a lot of its time setting up all the characters (of which there are too many) and building suspense as they all zero in on the target.

Some are calling Smokin’ Aces a Tarantino-wannabe, which it most certainly isn’t.

If anything, this is more of an American version of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, only instead of trying to heist a large diamond, everyone is out to whack a snitch for a large reward.

The performances from this all-star cast are pretty good, especially a scene-stealing cameo from Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman as an alcoholic lawyer and Chris Pine as Darwin Tremor, an insane skinhead who would have felt more at home in the Road Warrior.

And don’t forget about Alicia Keys making her acting debut as a sexy contract killer. If looks could kill, she would be a murderer many times over.

It’s not the performances that ultimately spoil this fine tasty flick; it’s the script.

Too many subplots are forcefully tied together in the end, including one with a federal agent who tried to infiltrate the mob years ago.

The film does a poor job of transitioning from outrageous comedy, which is executed very well, but too quickly goes to serious, emotional melodrama.

The quick laughs really hurt any emotion or dramatic seriousness.

Still though, the fun performances, flashy action and bursts of outrageous comedy make it entertaining enough, and I was never bored.

Smokin’ Aces
 isn’t necessarily a “good” movie, despite having some fun parts here and there, but when you leave the theater, you’ll probably forget about it almost instantly.

This movie is the cinematic equivalent to cotton candy.

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