DVD Review: Smokin’ Aces

Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The plan was to sit in front of the TV and veg out with a no-brainer, pure junk movie. If the aliens had flown over scanning for intelligent life, they wouldn’t have stopped at my house. That’s what I wanted. Smokin’ Aces double crossed me. It is a way better film than I expected or was looking for. Can’t trust nobody nowadays.
Quirky? Yep. Excessive? Now and again. But generally it’s tight as a shore leave sailor, with good performances by a raft of stars like Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Ray Liota, Alicia Keys, Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds.
Loosely based on the Sinatra legend (?) an entertainer with mob ties gets in over his head, Buddy Isreal (Pivin) makes a mess and to save his own worthless rump starts singing to the Feds. The mob figures the best way to clean it up is to have him killed, and will pay a cool million. The creams of contract killing get the word first and are on the move. Now doesn’t that sound like a recipe for numbness with lots of gunfire? Yeah Skippy.
The artful use of jump cuts and transitions introduce the players nicely without slowing the action, and there aren’t many you’d want to have lunch with. These people mean business and they enjoy their work. There are some truly first rate performances, to many to list, but I do want to mention two that come from outside the acting stable, Alica Keys and Common, music types, who at worst held their own is fast, fast company and in the case of Common, owned the screen any time he was on it. Also, Taraji Hennsen as half of the all girl hit team and her co-star, a 50 caliber Barrett sniper rifle, are worth a couple of looks. Not “Oh look at the little girl with the big gun.” And it is huge. Think Howitzer without the wheels. But she comes on like she’s been handling it since she was five and it’s an extension of her arm. Chilling. She also doesn’t give in to a pet peeve of mine which is the shooter closing his eyes before every discharge. Wouldn’t last long in a gunfight like that.
Anyone familiar with my reviews knows I’m no big fan of Special Features and Commentary. This has two separate commentaries and I listened to them both. Draw your own conclusion. The Special Features are well above average and the bit where Ben Afleck is trying to make a length of the table pool shot is laugh out loud funny. He should stick to poker. What I was looking for that night was undemanding entertainment. What I found was a jewel of a film. Give Aces a shot.
Lee Crawford