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Smokin' Aces
Review by Mr. Stinkhead

I just finally got to see Smokin' Aces, a stylistic shoot 'em up caper with an impressive cast. It's part The Rundown, Ocean's 11 and part Departed. The best thing about this feature is you'll have a blast watching each actor really have fun wearing their role.

The characters are what make Smokin' Aces really enjoyable. Jeremy Piven dives right in as the spiraling target Buddy Israel. Ryan Reynolds, surprisingly avoids smarmy asshole and plays a young Fed. I was beginning to believe that Reynolds could only do Van Wilder fare (see our review of Waiting) but I was pleasantly surprised by the range he brought to FBI Agent Richard Messner. Ray Liotta did a great job as his mentor. There's loads of cameos and surprises, such as Arrested Development's Jason Bateman as the sleazy lawyer, Revenge of the Nerds' Booger plays Buddy's agent, but you might not recognize Lost's Matthew Fox right away.

There are tons of these little gems through out the movie. Most of the characters are fresh. New spins on comfortable favorites, that stay above the dismal cliche's. I loved Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson as the high tech sniper duo, and the out-of-control Tremor brothers are great. Prepare to see the coolest tattoo utilizing an armpit—ever.

So the characters and premise—$1 million bounty draws all manner of hit man and protection—make for a fun combination, but the wrap of the movie really throws a monkey wrench into the mix. I liked how the story was moving. It was frenetic, it had depth, it was hilarious, it was engaging, and then this huge pseudo-intellectual plot twist nearly mucks up the end. I was enjoying the ride and then had to think of all a sudden to grasp what was going on. I liken it to a really sweet after school special full of drinking and teenage sex, but ends with a moral that kills the buzz. If there was a moral to Smokin' Aces, it's pick a genre and stick with it.

Ultimately this is a fun movie, but the ending is too complex of a conspiracy to be satisfying. I would have been pleased if it had a lighter ending to match the rest of the flick.

The bonus features are nice, I really enjoyed watching the gag reel, and the character bios under "Line up." The actors take some time explaining their characters, and you can tell everyone was really enjoying themselves throughout. I also enjoyed the alternative ending and deleted scenes. There is also a commentary, and making-of features.

My brother always told me that you should never direct your own writing, and this may be a prime example as to why. Joe Carnahan appears comfortable with his characters, and he can juggle a lot. I'm impressed. It just feels like two separate movies spliced together at the wrong time. I wish it more like Suicide Kings, where it smoothly transitions from dark comedy to tragedy at the right times.

7.5 out of 10

Check out the official web site for the Smoke Buddy Israel game. You will be dealt a series of cards. Flip them over by moving your mouse over them. When you find Buddy Israel, shoot him by clicking your left mouse button. Be quick and don't shoot anyone else or the game is over!

Pick up Smokin' Aces today from Amazon.com.




 
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