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Smokin’ Aces (3/10)

by Tony Medley

Brutal, grotesque, unrelenting graphic violence unquestionably desensitizes impressionable people to commit acts they would otherwise not even consider. Would the young Valley teenager have hit his tormentor in the head with a baseball bat without the constant graphic violence shown in movie and video games? Did he think it was going to kill the bully? Or did he think his victim would just jump up as they do in movies? This movie, masquerading as a satirical comedy, provides a crash course in deplorable, irresponsible filmmaking.

A bunch of not-ready-for-the-B-list actors, including Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta (has he ever been in a movie that didn’t have abundant violence?), Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Peter Berg, Martin Henderson, Taraji Henson and, in their motion--picture debuts, Alicia Keys and Common--, combined with writer-director Joe Carnahan, who has the deplorable Narc (2002, in which Liotta also appeared) to his everlasting shame, have come together to make this film in which hardly a minute passes without someone being blown away with a high-powered rifle or blood splatters all over the camera or someone is yelling the “F” word again and again and again. I wonder if Liotta can comprehend anyone who doesn’t include the “f” word in each and every sentence.

The FBI is trying to get to a mafia turncoat, Buddy “Aces” Israel, who is holed up in the penthouse of a Lake Tahoe, Nevada resort. Lots of other people just want to get to him to kill him before the FBI can get its hands on him.

The only positive comment I can make on this film is that Piven gives a very good performance as “Aces” Israel (thus, the name; everyone is trying to “smoke” Aces; hahahaha, that’s the only laugh in the movie). Well, maybe that was just me. The media screening seemed to be loaded with gangstas. I had to move because three sat behind me and were talking throughout the opening credits with no consideration to anyone around them. I moved to another seat and sitting next to me was a gangsta chick who laughed every time someone got his head blown off.

One thing Carnahan does well is pace. This movie moves along so that there’s no time to doze. But, then, there are so many people to kill in so many different ways, that it would have to move along briskly. This is a thoroughly despicable picture. For my money a film like this deserves an NC-17 rating far more than one dealing with explicit sex.

One good thing about it, however, is that even though Ben Affleck is listed as one of the stars, if you blink, you’ll miss him.

January 23, 2007