Monday, January 15, 2007

SMOKIN' ACES - cheap thrills, yay!

So you want me to be half-monk, half-hitman?I was expecting cheap thrills: mindless violence, smart-talkin' wise-guys and 70s-style handle-bar moustaches that would make the Village People weep. And I got all of that, sort of. The kitsch wasn't quite as stylised as in LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN; the eccentric characters weren't quite as cartoon-funny as in SNATCH; the twisty plot was half guessable but not as irritating as, say, OCEAN'S TWELVE.

Still, in terms of bullets fired and curses uttered, SMOKIN' ACES delivered. You mix a bunch of FBI agents, a double-cross mafia hit and a handful of international assassins and there's just going to be tears before bedtime. And even if the humour wasn't quite up to scratch there were two scenes that made it all worth while: first off, an absolutely hysterical cameo from Jason Bateman as a sleazy burnt-out lawyer; second, Ben Affleck, sporting the aforementioned handlebar moustache, giving his greatest comedic performance while playing dead. There's a mean joke in that.

So, on the level of pure popcorn entertainment, SMOKIN' ACES does what it says on the tin. The Brucey Bonus is that - and I can't believe I'm writing this - SMOKIN' ACES has surprising depth. To wit, the central performance by Jeremy Piven as a Sinatra-style lounge act turned mafia snitch, Buddy "Aces" Israel. In any other movie, Piven would just've been a MacGuffin. The anonymous commodity that the assassins are trying to kill and the Feds are trying to protect. After all, all Buddy does for the flick is pace around his fortified penthouse suite in Taho waiting for the shit to hit the fan. But Piven actually gives a fairly sympathetic depiction of a guy selling out his friends and cracking up. I was surprisingly moved by it. Similarly, director Joe Carnahan (NARC) shows his quality in getting an emotional scene out of Ryan Reynolds.

Is SMOKIN' ACES as slick as it should be? No. Do a lot of people get brutally murdered? Yes. Is it worth checking out? Yes. But perhaps it'll work best for DVD and pizza night with the lads.

SMOKIN' ACES is on release in the UK. It opens in Russia on the 25th and in the US on the 26th. It opens in the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden on Feb 2nd and in Australia, Iceland and Norway on the 9th. It opens in Denmark on Feb 23rd and in Germany and Estonia on March 2nd. It opens in Belgium on March 7th Turkey on March 17th, France on March 28th and in Argentina on March 29th. It opens in Italy on June 15th.

1 comment:

  1. I'm getting all giddy and stuff. WOOHOO!

    Plus that picture of Ryan Reynolds is hot.