A surprisingly good action film

   Please forgive the lateness of this post. Life interrupted art a few days ago, so I am behind on pretty much everything writing related.

   Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite action movies with you. It’s a  lighthearted little romp called Smokin’ Aces, and if you like shoot ’em up flicks with a decent plot and an all star cast of people who really seem to be enjoying themselves, then this would be a great one for you.

   This 2006 film stars Jeremy Piven as Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician with close personal ties to the Vegas mob. When Israel agrees to turn state’s evidence, Primo Sparazza puts a contract on his head. The FBI, seeing a chance to use the situation to bring down Sparazza, puts Israel into protective custody in a Lake Tahoe luxury hotel.

   Sparazza’s call brings out a dozen or so bounty hunters, excellently portrayed by such notables as Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Chris Pine, and Kevin Durand. In addition, high end hit men Nestor Carbonell (Lost) and Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy) are also on Buddy’s trail. Alecia Keys is a tough as nails hitwoman who is joined by Taraji P. Henson and her Barrett M107 .50 cal.

   The FBI is well represented by Andy Garcia, Ray Liota, and Ryan Reynolds, who gives one of his very best performances.

   Two other standouts are Joel Edgerton as Hugo, and Common as Sir Ivy. I first saw Edgerton in King Arthur, where he was an exquisite Gawain. As Hugo, his appearance had changed so drastically that he was unrecognizable to me. Common brings such great depth to he role of Sir Ivy, Israel’s longsuffering right-hand man, that it’s easy to forget he’s not the star of the film.

   Aces is a high-octane ride that doesn’t take its foot off the gas once the action starts. Piven shines as the self-indulgent Israel, and the cast also contains the talents of Alex Rocco, Matthew Fox, Jason Bateman, and Vladimir Kulich. The plot might be a little far fetched in one or two places, but watching is so much fun that it doesn’t really matter. The film contains strong language, brief nudity, and enough gunfire to get your blood racing and your adrenaline flowing almost from the get-go. There is a fairly high body count, but most of the victims are the bad guys, and they kind of have it coming. (Watch for the shootout in the hall outside the elevators.) Surprisingly, Aces is quite funny. There is some subtle humor as well as some that will have you laughing so hard you’ll fall out of your chair. There’s also a plot twist that may or may not be predictable, but regardless, it’s an important fact.

   All in all, for the kind of film that it is, Smokin’ Aces is better than most. It’s easy to see why so many big names wanted a part of it, and even easier to see why it is that even those whose characters were short-lived brought with them an undercurrent of pure fun.  


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