Review: Smokin' Aces

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Are you having a really bad week at work? Has your boss been nagging you or is your work just getting to you? Well if you're like me and you have weeks like that and you like to burn off some stress by either watching a very violent or funny movie or play a rather intense videogame. Smokin' Aces is one of those movies that lets you blow off a little steam as the mayhem unfolds.

Buddy Aces Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a premiere talent on the Las Vegas Strip. His magic show delights thousands and he is on top of the world. When Buddy starts believing his own hype and gets mixed up with a gangster his world starts to unravel. A million dollar bounty is placed on Buddy's head after he betrays his mob connections. Then four sets of assassins and mercenaries are sent after him and his only line of defense is a deal he is trying to make with the FBI.

The film does a wonderful job of introducing the motley set of individuals involved in the assassination of Buddy Israel. All in characters involved in the assassination are colorful but not very deep. Their main objective is just money so how can they really be. Then again this film isn't really deep at all and for once that is a good thing.

I really liked the FBI agents sent to protect Buddy Israel, played by Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds, mainly because they were the ones I could relate to the most. I also felt some connection to Alicia Keys as the "rookie assassin" caught in a thing gone terribly wrong. I also like Jeremy Piven who is dazzling one minute and slimy the next. I have always been a huge fan of his and here he doesn't disappoint.

I did find myself comparing this film a lot to a "would-be" Tarrantino film mixed some with a horror film I saw last year called Feast. That film wasn't a very good one but it was gory and a lot of fun. Smokin' Aces is a lot more high-caliber than Feast and just as fun.

When it comes to Tarrantino rip-offs this is pretty good. Tarrantino was never much focused much on plot but more interested in style and panache. In the Kill Bill films it took him two entire movies to have one final fight scene. Kill Bill was about the journey to the final scene and Smokin' Aces is all about its motley characters.

The film is directed by Joe Carnahan who hasn't directed a film since 2002's Narc which is still one of the most underrated films of that year. The film was stylized, deep and utterly brilliant. It starred Ray Liotta as this corrupt cop and Jason Patric investigating him. In my opinion it was the best performance Ray Liotta has ever done. Smokin' Aces is his follow up but its totally different kind of film because this one isn't serious at all. This film is probably a lot closer to Carnahan's directorial debut, 1998's Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane in both style and heavy mayhem.

The best way to describe the film is that it is a goofy, gory action film that is a whole lot of fun. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Tags: Smokin' Aces, Joe Carnahan, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven

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