Smokin Aces

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Peter Berg, Taraji Henson, Chris Pine, Martin Henderson, Jason Bateman. Comedy/action/crime adventure. Written by Joe Carnahan.Directed by Joe Carnahan.

FILM SYNOPSIS: This is a dark action comedy from Joe Carnahan, the acclaimed director of Narc, about the interlocking tales of high stakes and low-lifes such as Mob boss Primo Sparazza, who has taken out a hefty contract on Buddy "Aces" Israel (Piven)a sleazy magician who has agreed to turn states 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 (Reynolds and Liotta) dispatched to Aces' Lake Tahoe hideout. When 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, and double-crossing mobsters to join in the hunt.

PREVIEW REVIEW: In the early 80s, a title such as Smokin Aces would have indicated a good-ol-boy car chase movie starring Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Such is not the case here. This is a movie about several hit men (and women) on various steps of the evolution chain bent on killing an informer in order to earn a million bucks.

It starts out interestingly enough, with a moving narrative you have to pay attention to, fast pacing, and editing that gives the production a manic energy. But suddenly elements of bizarreness and gruesomeness found in Tarantinos Kill Bill and Gibsons Mad Max begin to pour forth. The gore fest quickly gets underway. Examples: an FBI agent in a gun battle with a demonic killer inside, get this, an elevator; a Three Stooges-like hit crew straight out of a horror show, who use chainsaws to cut up people for the fun of it; two attractive hit-women with a vocabulary made up mostly of the f-word; theres even a nutcase kid with a serious make that demented attitude and a penchant for martial arts.

Theres lots of dark-as-night humor and the action is endless (much like the running time), but like every action film these days, it does its best to outdo the others not with style or story, but with endless variations on how to humiliate or devastate the human body. Okay, its not to be taken seriously, but there are so many of these movies containing macabre humor and debauched behavior, as well as excessive bloodbaths. Each time we attend, we find ourselves getting pummeled rather than entertained. Whats more, this one seems to have no moral point. Its got established actors and some amusing dialogue, but its just about maiming and killing people. If there is a point, it gets drowned in a sea of blood.

There was a film in the early 1970s called The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah. That rogue filmmaker began the use of stark brutality in order to further a storyline. Indeed, violence became a character in that particular film. Some defended his use of graphic violence, while others were appalled. Though there are subplots exposing corruption and double-cross in Smokin Aces, I wonder what Peckinpah would think if he saw how his true-to-life bloodshed has become a tradition, one to be out-blasted by each successive effort.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several crude sexual remarks. And several black characters refer to themselves with the N-word.

Obscene Language: I simply lost count, but the use of the f-word exceeds 100 times and the s-word just about matches that count; the N-word is used as are many negative references by women about women.

Profanity: Eight profane uses of Gods name, with nearly the same misuse of Christs. At one point the lead villain looks upward and curses (blasphemes) God.

Violence: o quote Brando in Apocalypse Now, Oh, the horror. Countless dispassionate killings, close up, with gallons of blood spurting everywhere; fingers cut off, fingers bit off, throats slit, etc. Blood: Gallons. We see it dripping down walls along with brain matter.

Sex: The informant has been secured in a penthouse surrounded by an endless parade of prostitutes, whom he mistreats.

Nudity: Topless nudity and several women are seen in provocative hooker-ware.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Lots of drug use as the informant goes further out of his mind by inhaling an endless supply of cocaine.

Other: An overall feeling of debauchery and mindless brutality.

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

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