Smokin' Aces Cover Did you know that the term ‘assassin’ derives from a combination of words? ‘Ass’ as in ‘butt’ – then ‘ass’ again, as in ‘behind’ – and finally ‘in’ as in ‘in’. So basically, what assassin means, is 'Butt-behind-in' – because this vocation required a lot of a$$ bumping. True. Just ask Director: Joe Carnahan; and Actors: Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Andy García, Ray Liotta, and Alicia Keys. But remember to ask them this in 2006, and only for 106 minutes.

Smokin' Aces

Now it is pretty safe to say that Las Vegas magician and wannabe gangster, Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven), is in pretty deep sh*t. And why is that? Well, everybody wants him – that’s why. The police want him to testify against aged criminal, Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin), and the underworld want him dead because he is about to do this.

But not only that though, oh no, as to make matters even worse, the underworld place a bounty on Israel’s head for one million dollars – prompting a shed load of gangsters to partake in this frivolous task.

So what happens next then, huh? Is it cops and robbers time? Yep – I am afraid so. 

You see, where the police are concerned, FBI Deputy Director, Stanley Locke (Andy Garcia), sends out two of his Agents, Richard Messner (Ryan Reynolds) and Donald Carruthers (Ray Liotta), to Israel penthouse - located in Lake Tahoe - so that they can nab him before the gangsters do. And as for the gangsters... err... hmm... here, its time for a roll-call me thinks:

  • Jack Dupree (Ben Affleck) is a bail bondsman who is hired by the police, to bring back Israel to makes his next court appearance. However, Jack has other ideas, and he travels to Vegas with his two cronies, with the intent on collecting on this dubious bounty. Unfortunately, though, they are halted from doing so by...
  • ... a trio of deranged and mercenary half-wits called The Tremors, whom kill and hack whomever bars there path towards Israel. Well, that is until a select few of them come across the cross hairs of...
  • ... two lesbian femme fatales called Georgia Sykes (Alicia Keys) and Sharice Watters (Taraji P Henson). Prudently, they spit up when they reach the hotel where Israel is staying – with Georgia trying to sneak her way in dressed as a hooker – while Sharice finds herself a more loftier vantage point in an adjacent building. Still, there attempt on Israel’s life is sidetracked by...
  • ... a Latin Amrican mercenary called Pasquale "The Plague" Acosta (Nestor Carbonell). But alas, when he sneaks into Israel’s hotel also, his venture is halted by FBI Donald Carruthers, due to a ploy instigated by...
  • ... a legendary hitman and master of disguise called Lazlo Soot (Tommy Flanagan). Lazalo is a trained killer and impersonator you see, and he manages to make his way right up to Israel himself – instigating a whole heap of trouble in the process.

Now what then transpires is long, drawn out, and somewhat fractious turn of events – as age-old ploys are revealed – connections are applied – people die – people live – and the face of the underworld is never the same again.


Personally speaking, I find that 'Smoking Aces' is a film aimed at the video game generation. Well – come on – lets face facts – there are nutters running around chopping people up – bootylicious babes with big guns and bigger tits – cool looking people wearing designer hats and shades – oh, and a couple of police looking guys too. Still, does any of this, make for a bad film? No – not really. As if anything, the fun-factor does prop it up a notch or two, and makes it into a really enjoyable watch. Plus, on top of that, there is a story amidst all of this also - quite a nice story in fact, one that is very enjoyable to follow.

Smokin' Aces Poster

In a strange way, I dug how this film started off with top heavy exposition – then continued with a series of dynamic 'roller-coaster ride' type action sequences – and finally ended with a wrap up on the whole pretext. OK, so this may not have been everybody's cup of tea – as the middle sections were kind of uneven in places. Nevertheless, it did manage to mix a mêlée of styles within this segment, just to titivate the overall spectacle.

In addition to all of this, I did like the way that the different characters just intertwined in and out of each others story threads, as if they were all a part of the same story, yet detached at the same time.

Also, how could I forget to mention the actors involved, huh? All of them brought something to this piece, such as – Ryan: for his sombre nature – Andy and Tommy: for there imposing presence – Jeremy: for his lunacy – Alicia: for her inner beauty – Taraji: for her gutsy bravado – all the Tremors: for there bananas – Ray: for being Ray – and the rest: for trying there best.

Sexy Smokin' Aces

Unfortunately, though, if ‘Smokin’ Aces’ did have a sore point to it, it would have to be the overall flavour of this film. It’s no ‘Goodfellas’ – it’s no ‘Reservoir Dogs’ – it’s no ‘Godfather’ either – instead, it is a simple film told in a rather fractured, stylistic, and convoluted manner.

To me, it is as if a thirteen year old sat down and planned this film from the get go – as the overall tone and feel of this film, is what most teenage friendly markets strive for. However, at the same time, this is where the film falls flat also. It is just too cosmetic you see – as things are never really fleshed out as if they were depicted in a realistic way. Granted, on occasion, there are some emotional scenes that elevates’ this piece – such as the last sequence with Ryan, when Alicia is try to make her get away. But overall, this is not enough, making the complete package slightly hollow in substance.

Smokin' Aces Logo

Overall, ‘Smokin’ Aces’ is a great film to watch if you want a bit of cosmetic action sprinkled liberally with a nice overall pretext. So if you are a fan of such film as 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' (click here for review), or 'or Lucky Number Slevin' (ditto) then, this is defiantly a film for you.

Also, you get a nice glimpse at Alicia’s hooters too.


SMOKIN’ ACES SMOKIN’ ACES Reviewed by David Andrews on September 19, 2011 Rating: 5
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