When I started Smokin' Aces I wasn't sure if I was going to finish it. I just needed a brief "noise in the background" sort of movie while I ate a late supper and then crashed for the night. However, the strange delivery at the beginning combined with a joyously convuluted plot, kept me going to the end. It was a mixture of strange, half-coherent crime speak and a fun little Gordian knot of conflicting hitmen and other operatives; a meshing of styles and signatures. As the movie went, a couple of times I doubted my decision, and a couple of times stuck with it. Until the end, which is saying good things, because I was really tired. I still am (this is after watching it, even later) so let me be brief.
The acting is good, but not quite great, almost uniformly. Some of it is over the top, but that's what it looked like they were going for. Ryan Reynolds is really good, almost surprisingly so. Piven and Bates are both excellent to watch, as well. And I enjoyed Martin Henderson more than I probably should, since he didn't get to do much.
Characters are good and weird enough to be almost deep. Not deep in a soul searching sort of way, but deep enough to be memorable. I have to say that Soot is my favorite, far and away. Just about everything that guy does is golden.
The plot and set up is funny and fun, and interesting. Ok, enough about that.
I think what gets me about this movie, the most, is how utterly silly the first 2/3s are. I mean, they have some painfully silly moments. ADHD kid talks like a bad movie gangstah and thinks he is the karate kid, and gets an erection. Three neo-Nazi brothers out of Mad Max manage to not be shot on sight by policemen for just existing. A casino's security is so bad as to not double check a few things that would have changed everything. Ok, let's deal with that. I mean, it's just a fun movie and silly stuff happens all the time. Remember Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? Beat to death by a black dildo? Ha! Funny...
Except this movie then has the final 1/3, which with one possible exception, is a series of real downer scenes and plot twists and back stabbings and bloody violence and it comes crashing into the "reasons for it all" and you are left go "Damn, man" and then you have to realize: what was the humor for? Why set this up as a light hearted movie just to change? Because, frankly, a world that has the Tremor brothers isn't a world in which a serious plotline needs to develop. They break against one another and it lessens both. Individually, the first 2/3 and the last 1/3 are excellent. Together, they are at odds.
Oh, and twice they play out roughly the same scene with a hitman talking to a dying or dead person and mentioning heaven and showing how they didn't really mean it. Either one would have worked, despite both of them being handled a little awkwardly and one aimed more for "Oh wow, that's deep" effect and the other aimed for more of a "Oh wow, that's crazy" effect, but both of them sort of cancel each other. It just feels redundant.
I'll end this short review by saying that the movie gets a Good from me though I should get it an Eh. Too much cognitive discord between it's "halves" and it shows some sloppy bits at the edges. Oh, and it's kind of morally bankrupt, but that's cool, too.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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