It’s standard practice these days for singer/rappers to make the jump to the movies for your widescreen enjoyment. It’s uncommon that they do so outside of hood tales or comedies. Put two points on the board for Common and Alica Keys. In Smokin Aces they are not just outside of the aforementioned categories, Smokin Aces is one of the best quirky, guns-a-blazin’ movies I’ve seen in a long time.
The story is pretty simple: an entertainer with mafia ties turns snitch, the boss wants him dead.
In most instances this means a call to Joe Pesci. Here it’s a five fingers of death combination plate. Different styles of killing, different races and genders, punk rock to soul to just damn crazy.
The snitch, Buddy Israel is in a hotel penthouse suite with the Feds a dozen strong just outside his door, giving him some of that witness protection love. The five killers are all racing to the hotel trying to be the first to put Buddy Israel to sleep and collect the bounty.
With the killer’s different personalities, the movie’s stylistic camera shots, splashes of humor that keep it from being a dead on serious affair and Israel stuck in the hotel suite snorting coke like a Cartoon Network Tony Montana, completely oblivious to the gang of nut cases heading his way, it makes for a very entertaining two hours.
Taraji Henson and Alicia Keys play the female killing duo Watters and Sykes. Taraji is Watters who does the kind of mouthin’ off that Taraji knows best. Alicia Keys is the thinking, strategic side of the team.
Taraji’s character is also down for the lickety split, she speaks for every heterosexual male when she does the zoom in telescope peek while Alicia Keys gets into her hooker outfit.
What They Say
“Isn’t this grown-up? In a word, no, and that’s what’s so much fun about it.” - Washington Post, Stephen Hunter
“What makes this stew really cook are the performances. So over the top and ballsy, the actors are the reason this thing is so watchable, looking like they must have had the time of their lives making this film.. even singer Alicia Keys, impressive in her film debut. It may not be terribly original, but for a hot time at the movies in a long, cold winter, Smokin’ Aces holds a winning hand.” - Pete Hammond, Maxim
“Four years ago, US writer-director Joe Carnahan gave us the tough and unsentimental cop drama Narc. Now he has followed it up with a fatuous piece of nasty nonsense without a smidgen of that film’s intelligence. It’s a smirkingly violent ensemble action-comedy that leaves a very strange taste in the mouth.” - Peter Bradshaw, Guardian UK
“I have to admit that I have not yet seen ?_oNarc,?__ although I hear it?_Ts great. Joe Carnahan?_Ts follow-up is ?_oSmokin?_T Aces,?__.. ?_oSmokin?_T Aces?__ isn?_Tt going to redefine anything in cinema. It?_Ts not a great film, but it can be fun if you know what you?_Tre getting into. It?_Ts directed much like a music video, but it?_Ts got more substance than just the latest flashy fluff you?_Tre likely to see in a music video director?_Ts debut.” - Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures
Alicia Keys performance was on point. The character fit her personality and when it came time to squeeze off, the inherent ruggedness she exhibits on stage makes the scene work. Combined with her micro yet memorable speaking part in “You Don’t Know My Name”, I think she has a curious future in movies and hope to see more from her.
Common on the other hand looked and acted as we Commonly know him. No surprises. No real flavor. When he threatens to body his boss there was no scrambling for 911. He’s not believable as a tough guy, but he was okay as the manager of scandalous affairs.
Ben Affleck makes an appearance and capably continues to brush the J.Lo glitter off his body.
Ray Liotta gives the movie’s mafia twist some strength. He’s on the side of the law, but his presence alone adds weight to the cast. As does Andy Garcia who is at his best when he becomes the secret keeping boss fuck and gives the rundown of the entire operation to a young Fed agent Richard Messner aka Ryan Reynolds.
A moment that may have many scratching their heads.
You really have to listen.. so.. he.. and what.. heart.. transplant.
That’s the rundown.
There are some discontinuities in the storyline.. like why it takes so long for an elevator to travel a few floors. Guys shooting each other 8-9 times and are ‘dying’, while others get shot once and they’re dead on the spot.
But for pure entertainment value the rating for this movie is exactly what you see..
Could have been 4 but the ending is like smashing the brakes when your doing 75 on the freeway: throws you out of your seat, flips the car and the resulting pileup (and your death) is the bad reviews the movie has received, currently 29% on rottentomatoes.
Well, they were also looking for a more serious movie.
Regardless for an hour and 35 minutes I was entertained and it’ll be added to the DVD collection in a couple of months.
The qualification for any DVD purchase is can it survive multiple viewings. Check, check, check… *press stop after Israel is wheeled out of the hotel*... Check.
Did I just ruin it?