Smokin' Aces

Dir: Joe Carnahan
Star: Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Martin Henderson, Alicia Keys

This film is like spending 110 minutes being yelled at by a hyperactive child, demanding your attention. Carnahan doesn't so much direct this as throw character after character at the screen, apparently in the belief that if you don't like this one, there'll be another one along in a minute. Hell, even if you do like this one, there'll be another one along in a minute regardless - so, don't get too attached. The central theme is a Vegas entertainer and potential FBI informant (Piven), holed up in a hotel; a million-dollar bounty is placed on his heart by a mob boss, which attracts a swarm of assassins, covering the entire spectrum from lesbians to neo-Nazis. Meanwhile the FBI, under Agent Messner (Reynolds) do all they can to keep their snitch alive, with the two sides colliding in a major gun-battle around the elevator to the penthouse.

Who cares? That's the main problem here. Carnahan never gives you significant reason - or opportunity - to feel for the participants. Rarely is there a sense that they are anything more than a walking collection of cliches; the occasional quiet moment proves more effective, than all the "gangsta" posturing in which the film embeds itself. That aspect, which is really quite juvenile since no-one here behaves in a manner that's plausible, quickly gets tiresome. It's clear Carnahan is going for the comic-book aesthetic, and that's fine: however, it feels as if he has only captured the bad aspects of the genre. This is much more cheap Marvel potboiler, than anything by the likes of Frank Miller, Alan Moore or Bill Sienkiewicz, and the writers are very lucky no-one remembers Lady Cocoa, which this suspiciously parallels - right down to the location, a Lake Tahoe hotel.

November 2007

Blowin' chunks
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