Smokin' Aces

January 26th, 2007

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Smokin' Aces

Still of Jeremy Piven in Smokin' AcesStill of Kevin Durand and Maury Sterling in Smokin' AcesAndy Garcia and Joe Carnahan at event of Smokin' AcesStill of Ben Affleck, Peter Berg and Martin Henderson in Smokin' AcesStill of Joe Carnahan in Smokin' AcesRay Liotta, Ryan Reynolds and Joe Carnahan in Smokin' Aces

When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he's no longer breathing.

Release Year: 2006

Rating: 6.6/10 (74,388 voted)

Critic's Score: 45/100

Director: Joe Carnahan

Stars: Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta

Mob boss Primo Sparazza has taken out a hefty contract on Buddy "Aces" Israel, a sleazy magician who has agreed to turn state's evidence against the Vegas mob. The FBI, sensing a chance to use this small-time con to bring down big-target Sparazza, places Aces into protective custody-under the supervision of two agents dispatched to Aces' Lake Tahoe hideout. When the word of the price on Aces' head spreads into the community of ex-cons and cons-to-be, it entices bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, deadly vixens and double-crossing mobsters to join in the hunt. With all eyes on Tahoe, this rogues' gallery collides in a comic race to hit the jackpot and rub out Aces.

Ryan Reynolds - Richard Messner
Ray Liotta - Donald Carruthers
Joseph Ruskin - Primo Sparazza
Alex Rocco - Serna
Wayne Newton - Himself
Jeremy Piven - Buddy Israel
Ben Affleck - Jack Dupree
Peter Berg - "Pistol" Pete Deeks
Martin Henderson - Hollis Elmore
Common - Sir Ivy
Christopher Michael Holley - Beanie (as Christopher Holley)
Andy Garcia - Stanley Locke
Mike Falkow - Freeman Heller
Joe Drago - FBI Aid
Jeff Habberstad - Top Coated Gunman

Taglines: The hit goes down January 26.


Official Website: Studio Canal [France] | United International Pictures [Japan] |

Release Date: 26 January 2007

Filming Locations: California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $17,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: £1,023,862 (UK) (14 January 2007) (338 Screens)

Gross: $53,960,137 (Worldwide) (1 April 2007)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA:

Did You Know?

Joe Carnahan stated on the DVD commentary that the one shot of the movie is from his T.V pilot Faceless (2006). It is the shot of the ceiling light turning on in the Grandma's house.

Continuity: Everytime they flashback to Heller being shot, the number of bullets in the driver side window changes. While this is a continuity error, it might be intentional to illustrate the confusion an inconsistency combined with how little the FBI actually knew about the incident.

[first lines]
Donald Carruthers: You've got to be careful when doing your stakeouts. I did one for... I was on one for six months. I gained, like, 20, 25 pounds. You keep eating this crap...
Richard Messner: Well, that's not my problem, though. I don't gain weight. I tried.
Donald Carruthers: That's 'cause your 12 years old.

User Review

A shaggy dog story that goes enjoyably nowhere.

Rating: 6/10

There is a new genre infesting our nation's movie theaters. With apologies to Garrison Kellior, let's call it "guy noir". Films aimed directly at the young, hip male audience. Movies that are an unholy combination of old fashioned film noir and the modern action movie, as directed by the class clown. They offer fast paced entertainment, great character actors, twisty plot lines, explosions and more spent ordinance than used in a typical week in Baghdad. Even new genres breed clichés however and the original freshness heralded by Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction is beginning to smell the slightest bit stale. This brings us to Smokin' Aces, a movie that isn't so smug as to be intolerable or so brilliant as to be ground breaking. Rather it is good, competent, workmanlike example of its genre, which is bad news for a movie that wants to be hip and edgy.

Smokin' Aces has the requisite twisty plot. Actually it has at least nine plots, all twisty. In fact it has so many plots the movie dissolves into a series of incidences strung together by a smattering of narrative glue. Aces, a card magician and mob nabob, turns federal stoolie and a dying Godfather posts a high dollar contract on him. Naturally every photogenic hit-man with the weekend free descends upon Ace's casino penthouse to do the job and collect the dough. Smokin' Aces tries hard and includes everything needed to qualify as guy noir. It even tries to incorporate the "Tarantino Digression". That is, extended expository flashbacks incorporated for no good reason except that they are fun to watch. Smoking Aces can't quite pull these off as they require a defter touch than the movie is capable of.

There aren't any real people in Smokin' Aces. All the characters are strictly stereotypes played for effect rather than reality. Jeremy Piven as Aces is the self loathing hop head, Alicia Keys and Georgia Sykes are the hot lesbian hit team, Ben Afleck is the hipster bounty hunter and so on. Everything you need to know about these guys you learn in the first split second they are on the screen. There is no star in Smokin' Aces. Afleck, the biggest name, has a relatively small part and is upstaged by his hat. You might remember Chris Pine, Kevin Durand and Maury Sterling as the Tremor brothers if only because they were the loudest, most violent bunch in a loud violent movie. The only actor who rises above caricature is Ray Liotta, who invests his FBI agent with quiet dignity and a touch of pathos and in doing so sticks out like a sore thumb. It takes a strange sort of movie for a review to criticize the one genuinely good performance in it but Liotta just doesn't fit.

Smokin' Aces manages to hold its whirly gig self together for the most part. There are a few problems. It goes on too long after the climatic blood bath wrapping up plot threads you probably didn't notice amongst the explosions. There is a denouement where a hero, brought in from way out in left field, makes an existential choice that is not nearly as agonizing as the movie thinks it is because we have no emotional investment in the fellow making it. Though the final plot twist is prepared for and makes as much sense as anything else in the film, still it feels flat and unsatisfying. Think of Smokin' Aces as a shaggy dog story. It's long, involved and fun to listen to but ultimately goes nowhere.

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