It’s New To Me — Smokin’ Aces

 

Smokin’ Aces is an interesting case.

I had been looking forward to watching this one for quite some time. You’ve got a great cast in Jeremy Piven, Ray Liota, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia, Ben Afleck, and Jason Bateman. I was looking forward to see the performances of Alicia Keys and Common (both of which I like). Plus it’s an action movie, which, as a man, is often the only characteristic needed to get me to watch.

The result was a solid movie, but not as great as I’d hoped.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate Smokin’ Aces by any means, I was just expecting something more. Sure, I know its just a mindless action movie. I think the TV spot quoted a review that described it as, “bang, bang, expletive, expletive, bang, bang, explosion, expletive,” which doesn’t sound like your typical “good” review, so I shouldn’t’ have expected much. That said, let’s explore.

Smokin’ Aces follows a bad day in the life of a Las Vegas entertainer-turned mob boss named Buddy “Aces” Israel. The FBI, the story goes, is trying to make sure he is protected from a rival mob boss until they get him to provide information that will bring down the entire Sparazza crime family. Meanwhile, word gets out that there is a million dollar bounty on Buddy Israel’s head, bringing out a number of colorful bounty hunters eager to cash in.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like about the movie and we’ll end on a good note. Now I’m not proud to admit it, but I didn’t get the ending to this thing the first time I saw it (saw it twice, btw). You should get it when you see it, which makes me feel like an idiot, but I’ll admit it on this one.

The other thing that bugged me were some of the director’s choices. There were several scenes that showed Buddy Israel seemingly struggling with what he’s become. I got the impression I was supposed to feel sorry for Buddy, but the character doesn’t leave any room for that. But I’m just splitting hairs probably.

Let’s talk about what I did like. There was plenty of that. Just so I can say something good about the director, I liked the style in the first act setting up the story. That cast I listed earlier? They all did an excellent job with their respective roles. I’ve liked Ryan Reynolds since “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place” despite some of the choices he’s made since then. He’s good here again. Jeremy Piven was good as usual. Alicia Keys first acting role was on something called “The Cosby Show” in 1985, but as one of her first “real” roles, I thought she showed some talent. Common too has had some acting experience, but this was probably his biggest role to date, and he didn’t dissapoint. I almost wouldn’t call Jason Bateman’s role any more than a cameo, but he was hilarious never-the-less. Speaking of cameos, keep your eye open for a certain “Lost” castaway in a nice performance.

I honestly didn’t like this movie the first time I saw it, but I went back and gave it a second chance (friends of mine wanted to watch it) and really enjoyed it the second time around. A solid popcorn movie. I’d recommend it to anyone jonesing for a little action.

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