Smokin' Aces (2 stars)

(18) 108min

With Narc, director Joe Carnahan made a sterling contribution to the cop genre. Noteworthy for its grim bad cop/bad cop partnership the film was completely different to the usual dross. So it’s even more cringing that Smokin’ Aces is such a poor effort, packed with sub-par Tarantino-esque anecdotes.

A convoluted opening sequence, in which we are bafflingly introduced to seven hit men (ranging from the benign to the absurd with a call sheet comprising such luminaries as Ben Affleck and Alicia Keys) who are all after the $1m bounty on cosa notra mafia informant Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel’s (Jeremy Piven) head. This sequence in tone and slick style is reminiscent of Paul McGuigan’s Lucky Number Slevin and Wayne Kramer’s Running Scared, which is faint praise indeed.

Despite the numerous storytelling problems, the action still manages to illicit interest and good performance from the detectives in charge of protecting Aces, played by Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds and Andy Garcia. Nevertheless, the laboured build-up demands a decent set-piece à la Simon West’s Con-Air as an adequate pay-off for the initial verbal diarrhoea, and instead we’re given a predictable shoot-em up that is straight from the comic book.

Smokin' Aces

  • 2 stars
  • 2006
  • UK / France / US
  • 1h 48min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Joe Carnahan
  • Written by: Joe Carnahan
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Andy García, Alicia Keys, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds

Seven hit men (ranging from Affleck to Keys) are all after the $1m bounty on mafia informant Buddy 'Aces' Israel (Piven)'s head. After a slick set up and fairly interesting action the pay-off fails to deliver in an embarrassingly sub-par effort from the man who brought us the far superior 'Narc'.