Joe Carnahan's Smokin' Aces, while hardly originally, shamelessly stands on the shoulders of its predecessors to bring you a truly entertaining experience complete with 50 caliber rifles, chainsaw-wielding Neo-Nazi bounty hunters and a much-needed dose of unapologetic lesbian action.
Jeremy Piven stars as Buddy "Aces" Israel, a sleazy Vegas illusionist who is now holed up in a cocaine-and-hooker-filled suite overlooking Nevada's beautiful Lake Tahoe after having a hit put on him by some nefarious mob bosses. If Carnahan's film is a stylistic, yet devastatingly bad ass hurricane, Buddy Israel is at the eye of it, surrounded by a cast of wonderfully juicy characters.
To start there's FBI Director Stanley Locke (Andy Garcia) who has assigned two of his best agents (Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta) to protect Israel from various assassins and killers for hire who are out to collect the one million dollar bounty on the magician's head.
Then there's mob lawyer Rupert "Rip" Reed (Jason Bateman, who steals the spotlight in his short but memorable appearance) who hires bail bondsman Jack Dupree (Ben Affleck) to snatch up Israel and bring him in. This is where we as an audience are forced to play 52 card pickup.
The plot line, jagged and filled with holes, only exists as an excuse to experience the action-packed shootouts and squaring off between feds and deadly assassins. We meet The Tremor Brothers, three Neo-Nazi madmen who are known for their brutal, blunt style of business. Then there's Georgia Sykes (Alica Keys) and Sharice Watters (Taraji P. Henson), two lovely ladies who are paid killers. Keys gives a strong performance in her first acting role, a beautifully stunning, yet deadly femme fatale with no fear.
Hip-Hop artist Common also provides a strong acting debut as Sir Ivy, Buddy Israel's right hand man and most loyal bodyguard. Carnahan offers every character a moment of glory, a straight up opportunity to attain badassity in its purest form - filling someone full of lead.
This is the new quintessential guy movie. It's chock-full of style and attitude and pure chaos in its finest form. It's not all guts and glory though. While Carnahan's film is entertaining, it can't make it through this review without criticism. In the end the story itself is weak, and without the well-rounded characters (although there may be too many to keep up with) and strong acting performances, this movie would have been dead in the water.
You've got to give it up though, because it still delivers a strong action flick and hey, it even stars Matthew Fox (Lost's Jack). It's a fun pizza and beer kinda movie for you to enjoy with the guys (or those really cool girls who love blood and violence and lesbian tendencies).