Movie Review: Smokin’ Aces


The marketing for Smokin’ Aces paints the flick as a slick, stylish, hip, hyper-violent, shoot ’em up, “hire the hitmen to take out the scumbag mafia rat before he can snitch on us”, movie; an American version of a Guy Ritchie ensemble piece like Snatch with a little Tarantino flair and gore thrown in for good measure. For the most part, the marketing is accurate. You’ll see Jeremy Piven chewing up scenery better than ever before as the burnt-out, coke-snorting, whore-mongering, small-time Vegas stage magician-turned wannabe mafia sleazebag Buddy “Aces ” Israel, who is holed up in a Tahoe penthouse under the FBI’s protection until he can turn state’s evidence against the mob. Piven’s the best in the business when it comes to making degenerate, weaselly characters instantly funny and likeable, and you will almost feel bad for this scumbag as he’s targeted by a host of colorful hitmen.

And oh boy, are these hitmen characters colorful. They also happen to be the best part of the movie, mostly due to the tremendous casting involved. Ben Affleck (yes, I followed the words ‘tremendous casting’ with Affleck’s name) is great as an opportunistic bail bondsman out to nail Buddy with his two ex-cop buddies (Peter Berg and Martin Henderson). I’ve always stated that Affleck is genius in small doses when he has the right role to play (namely, a fast-talking dirtbag with a thick Boston or Jersey accent), and he delivers big time in the small amount of screentime he’s given.

Remember the Dreadnoks from the G.I. Joe comic books and cartoon? They’re represented live and in the flesh here by Chris Pine, Maury Sterling and Kevin Durand as the Tremor Brothers, a trio of psychotic, punk-rocker Mad-Max-style forces of nature that leave a trail of corpses and destruction their wake. Taraji P. Henson and singer/songwriter Alicia Keyes almost steal this entire movie as two female assassins. Keyes is especially impressive, with a sexy, absolutely mesmerizing screen presence and sultry line delivery. When she disguises herself as a prostitute, a pair of fishnet pantythose never looked better. The hitmen are rounded out nicely by Suddenly Susan’s Nestor Carbonell as a smooth but lethal latino andTommy Flanagan (the guy with the scar on his cheeks in Gladiator) as a creepy master of diguise.

The “good guys” in Smokin’ Aces are represented by funnyman Ryan Reynolds and screen veterans Ray Liotta and Andy Garcia as the FBI agents assigned to protect Israel. They do a serviceable job, but you’ll find yourself counting the minutes until you can see something explode or Alicia Keyes in her booty shorts again. Beyond the G-Men and the criminal element characters, there are tons of celebrity cameos and walk-ons from the likes of Curtis “Booger” Armstrong, hip-hop artist Common, Alex Rocco, and in two absolutely hilarious sequences, Jason Bateman as a pervo lawyer with mouth herpes and LOST‘s Matthew Fox in a really bad wig and glasses playing the hotel’s chief of security.


In the end, Smokin’ Aces is a lot like a fifteen year-old kid. They’re both a little awkward and neither of them really knows what they want to be. Fifteen year-old kids can also be manic, loud as hell, unruly, obnoxious, hyperactive, and violent. Again, the same can be said about Smokin’ Aces. In fact, if the individuals responsible for the film focused more on, as Alex from A Clockwork Orange would say, “the old ultra-violence”, I probably would’ve liked it a whole lot more than I did.

Not to say that Smokin’ Aces is a bad movie, it’s actually a lot of fun, but it’s a meal that suffers from too many cooks dropping things in the pot and one very unpalatable ingredient that overwhelms the entire dish. It’s like eating a luscious, sweetly frosted, decadent, super moist piece of cake, then realizing about 3/4ths of the way in that the rest of the slice is made of Limburger cheese and SPAM. You don’t want to eat that last 25% of SPAM and Limburger, and the slice of cake certainly doesn’t need to be composed of those nonsensical and unnecessary ingredients. In the end, it’s just upsetting and you wonder why the chef didn’t simply add more frosting to fill in the last 1/4th.

And that’s exactly the problem with Smokin’ Aces. We get a big heaping helping of SPAM and Limburger cheese dumped into our delicious, gooey, sugary cake in the form of a wholly unnecessary, over-dramatic, (and very predictable) “twist ending” involving the big Mob Boss and an FBI undercover operative that takes up the last fifteen minutes of the movie with other elements to it peppered throughout the film proper. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and all you really wanted was more of the sweet frosting (i,e. the action, psycho characters, humor, and sexy babes in revealing clothes).

7.0 out of 10.

Dick Cheney Is A First-Class A-Hole

Wednesday night, hypocritical jackassVice President Dick Cheney sat for a televised interview with CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer. The Vice President was grilled on a litany of issues (mostly about the Iraq war) that emerged in the wake of President Bush’s State of the Union Address the night before. Cheney barely answered any of the questions Blitzer threw at him; dodging, grimacing, and giving half-hearted, monotone responses that would make Patriots coach Bill Belichick seem like a lively, articulate fountain of information by comparison.


We umm… lost today, and it was tough. See you next year.

After listening to the curmudgeonly Cheney duck all the heated Iraq issues, Blitzer decided to address Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary, and her recent pregnancy. More specifically, a statement made by conservative Christian leader James Dobson and his organization Focus on Family. Here’s the transcript from FOXNews.Com:

“Mary Cheney’s pregnancy raises the question of what’s best for children. Just because it’s possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn’t mean it’s best for the child,” Blitzer read, quoting the organization.

Asked if Cheney wanted to respond, the vice president paused and stared at Blitzer before saying, “No, I don’t.”

Blitzer, seemingly spooked by the chill that pervaded the room, tried to smooth the ruffled feathers by offering his opinion of Mary and her older sister, Elizabeth Cheney.

“We like your daughters. Believe me, I’m very, very sympathetic to Liz and to Mary. I like them both. That was just a question that’s come up and it’s a responsible, fair question,” he said.

Cheney said he, too, thinks the world of his daughters and added, “I think, frankly, you’re out of line with that question. … I just fundamentally disagree with your perspective.”

So basically, it’s perfectly acceptable for the Vice President’s daughter to have a lesbian relationship, give birth to a child, and raise that child in a “non-traditional” family environment that doesn’t involve a man and a woman, but it’s completely unacceptable, unethical, and immoral for anyone else. Unbelievable. What hypocritical bullshit. Way to go, Dick. I can only imagine the shit-storm Republicans and conservative Evangelical wackos would unleash on someone like Barack Obama if he were in a similar situation with his children and gave a response like Cheney’s.

Edited out of the broadcast piece was Wolf Blitzer’s final question of the interview; a question that seemed to enrage the Vice President even more so than Blitzer’s probings into the Mary Cheney controversy. However, the staff here at boxcar astronaut was fortunate enough to obtain a transcript of the exchange:

Wolf Blitzer: One last question Mr. Vice President, if I may. Can you comment on the rumors that you are, in fact, the notorious Batman villain knows as “The Penguin”?

Dick Cheney: I have no comment to those ridiculous rumors, but I’ll say one thing about that caped do-gooder Batman: he better stay out of the Penguin’s affairs, or else he’s going to get a rainbow-colored, tear-gas releasing umbrella up his ass!. Waugh waugh waugh!

Dear ‘LOST’,

I’m writing to tell you that it’s over between us. I’m really sorry. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m leaving you for a better show. A show that fulfills my needs; that satisfies me in ways you never could. A show that respects me, doesn’t play games with my head, and doesn’t jerk me around or tease me. In the beginning, you were sexy, fun, and intriguing, but now all you do is leave me with unanswered questions, frustration, and the worse case of blue balls since Nick Lachey before he married Jessica. LOST, you are the hot, unattainable woman that refuses to put out, yet I keep coming back to you week after week in the hopes that you will end my suffering. Sure, you provide relief once in a while, you satiate my desires in small doses, but I need more. I’ve had enough. My new show makes me happy. Battlestar Galactica is a real show that knows how to treat me. Maybe it’s not as pretty or flashy as you, but it’s got real substance. it has personality and intelligence, and best of all, it’s no prude. Battlestar knows how and when to give up the goods, leaving me gasping for air and drooling in anticipation for the next time we can get together. Hell, my new show even has its’ lead actress in a Playboy pictorial. It would be more likely for me to see Osama Bin Laden walking down my street with a Sasquatch than Evangeline Lily, Yunjin Kim, or Emilie De Ravin in their birthday suits. Don’t worry, though. We can still be friends. We’ll hang out every Wednesday night and I’ll still enjoy your company, but you aren’t my main squeeze anymore. Have a nice day!

By Jeff Carter Posted in Humor, TV