Ensemble cast makes action flick ‘Aces’

Jenna Gerling

Blood splatters on one floor of the Nomad Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nev., where every hit man in the world is after Buddy “Aces” Israel.

Magician and mob ally turned informant, Israel (Jeremy Piven), is the most wanted man alive. He waits for safe transportation inside the high-rollers suite of a ritzy hotel, while assassins try to take him out. In return, the hit man who collects Israel’s heart receives a bountiful reward.

When the trailer for Smokin’ Aces first aired on television, a sense of a Scarface-esque concept with similar cinematography and plot came to mind. Hit men from all over the world are after one coked-out man.

But this movie has something that today’s movies have been more inclined to use in their plots — the twist — the inconclusive ending that has you pulling your hair out in suspense, which ends with a jaw-dropping conclusion.

Smokin’ Aces lacks a true introduction, electing to jump right into the middle of a pre-existing plot, forcing the viewer to quickly learn the multitude of characters introduced. Writers use little information to explain their purpose in the movie besides the fact they are all in on snuffing Israel.

And while Ben Affleck and Andy Garcia are relatively well-known, Aces features several musicians-turned-actors that could potentially tarnish the film, such as former *NSYNC members Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, Common and Alicia Keys. Luckily, they contribute a certain flair and emotion to the plot, which makes for a nice break between the intense action.

Affleck’s short-lived role as assassin Jack Dupree allows him no time to show off his combat-finesse, especially when compared to his previous roles in Daredevil and Armageddon. He is mostly an informant in the movie, narrating the assassins who are in the film.

As for other assassins, there are three crazy brothers who maintain steady neurotic behaviors and a love for their weapons of choice, such as chainsaws. Dupree and his friends are in it more for the financial outcome of the deal. Georgia Sykes (Keys) and gun-toting companion Sharice Watters (Taraji Henson) decide that Israel’s sex drive is the path to take, and the more exciting and interesting hit man who disguises himself by stealing identities — and faces — makes his way past FBI agents and guards.

One of the film’s most disturbing sequences takes place when Pasquale Acosta (Nestor Carbonell) sets up the death of a security executive (Matthew Fox of “Lost”). As Acosta interrogates the guard, he tells him exactly how he is going to die in an incredibly bone-chilling sequence before soothing his victim.

“Close your eyes. Think of something wonderful. Don’t make this face the last thing you ever see,” Acosta said before muttering in Spanish, reminiscent of Ray Liotta’s brain-eating sequence in Hannibal.

You don’t have to be a fan of shoot-em-up flicks to appreciate Smokin’ Aces. With its sporadic teeth-clenching scenes and amazing cinematography, director Joe Carnahan has crafted an action movie worthy of your attention.

Smokin’ Aces

Starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, Common and Andy Garcia

Directed by Joe Carnahan

Distributed by Universal Pictures

Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use

Stater rating (out of five):


Contact ALL correspondent Jenna Gerling at [email protected].