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   Movie Reviews: Smokin' Aces
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Studio:
     Universal Pictures
Plot:
     Two FBI agents attempt to keep an informant alive so he can testify against a mafia boss.
Cast:
     Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, Common, Joseph Ruskin, Taraji P Henson
Rating:
     R
Bottom Line:
     *1/2

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel (Piven) is a mobster turned FBI informant with a million dollar bounty on his head. With a sum that sizeable, every free-lance bounty hunter and contract killer in the circuit wants him dead, hence the title "Smokin Aces." Holed up in a luxury Penthouse suite in Lake Tahoe surrounded by hotel security and a few of his own thugs, it’s only a matter of time before the raucous cavalcade of con men, bounty hunters and ex-cops converge on the Nomad Hotel where he is staying.

With an impressive ensemble, a half plausible plot and a collection of colorful assassins, which includes bounty hunters and bail bondsmen (Affleck, Henderson and Berg), two hit women (Keys and Henson), the chainsaw-wielding neo-Nazi brothers and various other hit-men, one would expect a stylishly creative crime flick with a plethora of action and several doses of humor -- a la movie "Pulp Fiction." Sadly, this movie is several steps from achieving this and promises much more than it actually delivers. Although the action is quite explosive and over the top, "Smokin Aces" is a mesh of crosses, double-crosses, and nonsensical plot twists. The major problem with this flick is that it has a very complicated plot with far too many major players, and any attempts to simplify it only causes even more confusion. It zaps back and forth with snippets and scenarios in the first 20 minutes as it introduces the zillion oddballs from FBI Agents Messner and Carruthers (Reynolds, Liotta) attempting to protect Israel, the mafia, the mafia boss, Israel’s henchman and finally the various assassins. Outrageously complicated, it’s a case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and it’s rather exhausting just trying to keep up with this juxtaposed mess. There’s also a farcical twist at the end which is very hard to swallow. R&B Singer, Keys holds up remarkably well in her debut movie role but fellow crooner Common, who plays one of Isaiah’s henchmen, is as stiff as a floor board. His lips move as he delivers his lines but his expressions remain stoic.

This nonsensical mush is a certainly a post Christmas turkey and everyone should instead be trying to kill the directors and writers for wasting such good talent.

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