Original Review Date: 3/6/2007
Smokin’ Aces is a film in the vein of True Romance and other superiorly written Quentin Tarantino flicks minus any of character detail, character development or inventive prose, save for a scene involving a lawyer and three bounty hunters in a hotel room. Aces is a Tarantino film in desperate need of Tarantino or his protégé Robert Rodriguez. This film is the severely mentally handicapped third nephew of a good film inspired by what Tarantino has done in the movie industry. Wayne Kramer’s Running Scared and Paul McGuigan’s Lucky Number Slevin were films that may have “borrowed” structure and other elements (i.e. unique characters converging on one another) from Tarantino films but they smartly made them their own and added to the equation at the same time. Aces started off as good as its brethren with all of the character introductions but got stuck in first gear during its second act and never recovered.
I read a review for this film in the New York Times that started off with something like: BLAM, BLAM, BLAM. Head explodes, BLAM, guy sits on chainsaw. BLAM. End credits. If this film was that adrenalised, I would have actually had a good time. Much like Crank, this film was so lackluster I just wanted the film to end or at least get good and interesting. We know going in that there is going to be a gun fight or two or three but ninety percent of the ones that transpired in this film had no basis in reality. There is a part in the film that involves an assassin with a assault cannon (A) in one hotel filled with civilians and FBI agents (B) in another hotel filled with civilians. (A) fires at (B) but precisely and accurately with the aid of an eye patch and sniper scope and you know what? Guess what happens? You will never guess. The FBI agents blindly return fire into hotel (A); filled with the aforementioned civilians, without even knowing what floor the cannon shoots came from. They just fire at the civilian building repeatedly, emptying whole handgun magazines in the process. Guess what else? The director, Joe Carnahan, never shows the effect of the FBI’s returned fire. It is never even broached, mentioned or brought up in the remainder of the film. Brilliant, realistic and well-thought out are the words that come to mind at the conclusion of this intrepidly scrutinized scene and all the others of its likewise quality.
Smokin’ Aces is a film that could have been great with more tweaking and development. Unfortunately, just like Crank, the trailer for this film was actually better and more entertaining than the film it was advertising. Did you notice that I did not mention a single character or actor’s name during the course of my review? That is because they are all interchangeable. No one planted his or her flag as an actor in this film and no one had anything memorable to contribute. Smokin’ Aces is a construct of vapidness where big name stars and their talent disappear into the black hole of a film that goes no where. Joe Carnahan showed a lot of promise in 2002 with Narc but his two follow ups, Ticker and this film, have failed to bring that glimmer of burgeoning and qualified directorial talent to fruition.