Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Premise: When a mob informant (Jeremy Piven) prepares to testify against the mob, a large number of colorful assassins descend on a Las Vegas hotel, resulting is a shootout between the assassins and between the assassins and law enforcement.
What Works: Smokin’ Aces has some great cinematography and the actors get some unique roles that are fun to watch, at least for a while. The final shootout is a great action sequence and is put together very well.
What Doesn’t: For all of the film’s flamboyance, Smokin’ Aces is resoundingly empty. The characters are colorful and there is a fair amount of humor, but the film has no substance. Where films like Snatch also featured eccentric characters, the subjects of Smokin’ Aces are not very interesting aside of their peculiarities. They are not really characters so much as they are live action cartoons. Like Shaun of the Dead, Smokin’ Aces seems as though it were made with a degree of consciousness about its genre but the film is not able to play on or add anything to that genre. The story has little to it either in character development or in dramatic tension. Smokin’ Aces puts a man’s life at stake but he is a horrible person and an uninteresting character, and so there is little weight in whether he lives or dies.
Bottom Line: Smokin’ Aces is a film that has some interesting characters but its screenplay suffers from a lack of a central character or a compelling motivation. Where other films such as Snatch or Shaun of the Dead successfully combined colorful characters and genre awareness with a sense of playfulness, Smokin’ Aces comes up short and ends up with a lot of style with little substance.
Episode: #128 (February 4, 2007)