Smokin' Aces (2007)

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Drama
Universal || R - 109 minutes - $29.98 || April 17, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-05-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer(s): Joe Carnahan (written by)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Common, Jeremy Piven, Alex Rocco, Peter Berg, Curtis Armstrong, Matthew Fox


Theatrical Release Date: January 26, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Writer/Director & Editor Commentary
  • Writer/Director & Cast Commentary
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Cowboy Ending
  • The Line-Up
  • The Big Gun
  • Shoot 'Em Up: Stunts & Effects


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot (from DVD back cover): Slick Las Vegas illusionist Buddy “Aces” Israel isn’t playing nice. Turns out, he’s telling mob secrets to the FBI. After a $1 million contract is put out on him, Aces tries to pull his greatest disappearing act before a rogues’ gallery of ex-cons, hit men and smokin’ hot assassins tries to rub him out in this edgy action comedy that takes no prisoners.

On the surface, Smokin’ Aces sounds like a rollicking good time, the type of movie you can kick back, relax and enjoy the carnage and explicitives that were to flow. Sadly enough, there wasn’t much to enjoy about Aces. The premise of a “rogues’ gallery” of villains going after one man is intriguing, but if not caring about any of the characters weren’t enough (none of them were particularly fun or funny), the story never melds together either.

Writer/director Joe Carnahan delivers a film in Smokin’ Aces void of anything entertaining and instead provides some cool-looking shots but shots I’ve seen before. Narc, Carnahan’s major feature debut, wasn’t great but it was gritty and offers great performances from Jason Patric (almost making me forgive him for the awful Speed sequel) and Ray Liotta, who makes another appearance here.

Liotta plays Federal Agent Carruthers and Ryan Reynolds is his Fed partner, Richard Messner. The two are on a squad to help save Aces from the killer blood onslaught that includes bale bondsman Jack Dupree (Affleck) and his crew (Berg/Henderson), Serna (Rocco) and Georgia Sykes (hottie Keys), the Tremor Brothers (Durand/Sterling/Pine), master-of-disguise Pasquale Acosta (Carbonell) and not to mention some of the guys around “Ace” like Sir Ivy (Common).

One impressive thing about Smokin’ Aces is the performance and screen presence from Common in his feature debut. He doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time and yet, the scenes he was in, he displays a certain charisma and, in a way, likeability missing from the well-known talent.

Smokin’ Aces, overall, isn’t a bad movie or even poorly done. The story had promise but I didn’t have the kind of fun that I’m sure the filmmakers’ were gunning for. This does, however, scream cult status from the drug-induced Jeremy Piven (who is excellent on “Entourage”) to Alicia Keys’s hooker wardrobe (not shown nearly enough, I felt). However, for me, nothing really clicked but I do see some of the appeal it’s gotten and will get in the future.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Writer/Director & Editor Commentary - Joe Carnahan and editor Robert Frazen provide a movie technical, but still fun, commentary track. There’s some bits of trivia mixed in with behind-the-scenes information. However, he mentions (as he does in the second commentary track) about an alternate, more downbeat, opening which was not included on this DVD...

Writer/Director & Cast Commentary - Carnahan makes another run at a commentary (this time with a sore throat) is joined with cast members Common (Sir Ivy), Christopher Halley (“Beanie”) and 15-year-old Zach Cumer (Warren). The track is easy-going with some joking around from Carnahan and just various comments here and there.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (9:34) - Four standard scenes are included with nothing outstanding that would’ve been cool to include with the final version. Most of these are actually extended with more lines but one does find the Ryan Reynolds meeting Martin Henderson and helping him drive (or something along those lines).

Outtakes (9:28) - This is your usual compilation of flubbed lines and on-set goofs between the actors and Carnahan. I normally like these kinds of things, but this wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but still kind of funny.

Cowboy Ending (1:04) - It is a little different from the original, but this alternate ending isn’t nearly as good. I actually prefer with what Carnahan went with.

The Line-Up - A 5-part featurette averaging around 2:45 each and total over 13-minutes. These are character profiles featuring interviews with the actors as they talk about their roles. Here you get: Buddy Israel, Bounty Hunters, Lethal Ladies, The Tramor Brothers and The Feds.

The Big Gun (11:52) - This featurette aims its focus on writer/director Joe Carnahan on the set on various days plus his thoughts on filmmaking. For those who appreciate special features, I guess this would make a good companion piece to the commentaries...

Shoot ‘Em Up: Stunts & Effects (4:50) - Less about effects and more about gun training and actor’s experiences with the squibs. A little disappointing as it could’ve gone more into some of the visual/special effects.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Smokin’ Aces is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1 OAR) and with Carnahan’s array of colors, sometimes overexposed (Piven’s first scene) other times subdued, everything looks as it should.

The sole audio track available is Dolby Digital 5.1 that works just fine providing some good sound when the bullets start flying. A DTS track would’ve been fantastic, but this works just as well.



.::OVERALL::.

Smokin’ Aces might not have been as fun of a movie as I was expecting and while the story never meshes too well, some of these characters are great (especially the one’s by Keys and Common) and it does have that “cult” kind of vibe to it. I also have give some props to Carnahan for not making the entire film predictable. He throws in a scene or two to keep the audience on their toes.

Overall, though, the film just didn’t do anything for me.