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Smokin' Aces

A movie directed by Joe Carnahan

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Another Wasted Film With Far Too Much Violence

  • Feb 24, 2008
  • by
Pros: The ever sexy Alicia Keys looking, well, sexy.

Cons: Everything else.

The Bottom Line: As the movie closes one of the characters, banged up and bleeding pleads with another to “Make it make sense.” Too Late!

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

I will be the first to admit that Alicia Keys is one of the most beautiful, sexy, and talented women in the entertainment business, but she could have picked a more respectful and challenging role than hit woman Georgia Sykes in the 2006 stinker Smokin’ Aces to make her acting debut. After suffering through this (low-wattage) star-packed spasm of a movie it’s easy to see why its life at the box office was short lived.

The Story-Line

Written and directed by Joe Carnahan (Narc) Smokin’ Aces reaches back into now familiar territory—the Mob—to tell it tale, only this time with a twist at the very end. Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven - Ellen, The Larry Sanders Show, Entourage) is a Las Vegas showman gone bad; that is he is attracted more the dark side of the city of perpetual light, than the happy, sunny side. Now he has turned state’s evidence and everyone wants him dead, even his alleged mentor Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin – The Untouchables, Mission Impossible, Alias), and there is a 1 million dollar bounty on his head.

So Buddy “Aces” Israel skips town and his bail, and holds up in a Lake Tahoe hotel—in the Presidential suite no less, not exactly incognito. Protected by a pair of bodyguards, Sir Ivy (Common) and Beanie (Christopher Michael Holley), Buddy spends copious amounts of money on, you guessed it, booze, prostitutes, and drugs, all the while negotiating with the FBI for better terms.

Meanwhile, a rather colorful collection of FBI agents, ex-cops turned bail bondsmen, hit-man/women descend on Lake Tahoe in an effort to get to Buddy first. They include, but are not limited to: Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, (the aforementioned) Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Nestor Carbonell, Martin Henderson, and Ryan Reynolds.

My thoughts

Smokin’ Aces is far too typical of the debauchery coming out of Hollywood these days to be even mildly enjoyable. Each character plays his or clique-riddled part with equal aplomb to be sure, but the plot while it could have been promising, was too full of holes and predictable plot twists to rate as even rainy day recommendations.

Ms. Keys looks absolutely adorable in her role as the elegantly dressed (when she is not dressed as a hooker that is) assassin, but here foul mouth was a little hard to take given her alter ego. But it seems a lot of Pop artist are “crossing over” so I had better get used to the theme. Rapper Common does a convincing job as the tough as nails bodyguard, and I have to admit that I would like to see him act in something else; perhaps something with a little more depth next time.

However, there is nothing new here. Smokin’ Aces is all bullets, blood, dead bodies, foul language, and loud sound with little substance undergirding it all. There are just too many characters, too little plot development, and far too much ground already trod upon again and again.


As the movie closes one of the characters, banged up and bleeding pleads with another to “Make it make sense.” Too late, Smokin’ Aces despite Ms. Keys looking sexy and ready to be served up is pretty senseless fair.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Smokin' Aces reviews
Quick Tip by . June 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of the absolute worst movies I've ever seen in my entire life.      Smokin' Aces is essentially an amalgamation of all the most cliche yet trendy shit that's popular in Hollywood.  This celluloid crap is merely yet another convoluted tale with far too many characters (ranging from uninteresting at best, extremely annoying at worst), slick and fast video editing that would be right at home with whatever pap Jason Statham stars in, and self-congradulatory …
Quick Tip by . May 24, 2010
What an unexpected surprise! The cast is awesome, the comedy is well-written, and the violence is plentiful.
review by . November 17, 2009
Movies like  this are, like I've said many times before, a dime a dozen  but once in a great while you  get  a rare coin  in the bunch of old dull ones, and Smokin' Aces is that rare  coin. It's slick, stylish, brutal, funny at times, dark , witty and smart It's got the making of a great action  thriller  and it's not afraid to show it.            Smokin' Aces is a brash   action film that is straight out of …
review by . April 26, 2007
Trying to keep track of the huge cast of characters, keeping their various allegiances to the plethora of participating assailants, requires a scorecard in the film SMOKIN' ACES. Writer/Director Joe Carnahan has style and the film's similarity to the many other cop/mob caper movies is evident, but Carnahan like to blitz the eye of the viewer with so much visual information (multiple tracks, quick scene flashes, unexplained flashbacks, etc) that when coupled with a soundtrack that is burdened with …
review by . April 18, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Writer/director Joe Carnahan takes a note from Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott in Smokin' Aces, a gleefully violent, nihilistic, sexist romp. Carnahan isn't trying to say anything, he just wants to make a slammin' guy flick with lots of shooting and explosions. To this effect, the plot is secondary; all that matters is this elaborate situation he sets up where an army of bounty hunters all descend upon Lake Tahoe to try to get the bounty on Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven,). The action moves …
review by . April 17, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Unnecessarily intricate, but sometimes fun, 'Smokin' Aces is an uneven, 'Kill Bill' or 'Get Shorty'. Containing some big laughs and some skillful scenes, the movie, nevertheless, should stick to its hand and often folds on focus. The plot is developed alright, but unlike other venues that come to mind, 'Crank' (Fun), 'The Departed' (Twisty and Entertaining), 'Running Scared' (Awesomely Wild) and 'Pulp Fiction' (Clever) or 'Inside Man' (Intelligent), it isn't nearly as satisfying. By the time one …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


Fresh from his success with HBO's ENTOURAGE, Jeremy Piven gives his career a further boost by taking the lead role in director Joe Carnahan's (NARC) fast-paced thriller, SMOKING ACES. Piven plays Buddy "Aces" Israel, a former Vegas performer who has holed up in the penthouse suite of a Lake Tahoe casino after what seems like half the planet decides they want him dead. The reason for this bloodlust stems from Israel's dalliances with the mob, who have put a $1 million price tag on his head after discovering he is about to tell all to the feds. The only people who don't want to put a premature end to Israel's life are two FBI agents, played by Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta, and their boss, Andy Garcia. As various assassins attempt to put an end to Israel's pitiful existence, a parade of celebrity cameos ensues, including Alicia Keys, Common, Ben Affleck, and Jason Bateman. <br> <br> Carnahan soaks the screen with vivid primary colors, lots of flashy set pieces, and plenty of guns and violence as his movie ...
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