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"Smokin' Aces" Movie Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Jeremy Piven stars as Buddy 'Aces' Israel in "Smokin' Aces."

© Universal Pictures

The Bottom Line

The second film from the decidedly warped imagination of writer/director Joe Carnahan is every bit as edgy as Narc, his critically acclaimed debut film. Carnahan's Smokin' Aces is a fast-paced, twisting, complicated thriller/dark comedy loaded with graphic violence and filled with some of the most interesting characters imaginable.

Smokin' Aces is outrageous and just goes for it, and it's definitely not for those who don't enjoy seeing blood and body parts splattered all over the screen. For those who like their films heavy on guts and gore, Smokin' Aces delivers the bloody goods in spades.


  • Great cast, cool action scenes, and over-the-top violence
  • Writer/director Joe Carnahan does a good job of juggling dozens of supporting characters
  • Ben Affleck's never been funnier than he is in Smokin' Aces


  • Loses steam during the last 10 minutes


  • Features Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Alicia Keys, Ben Affleck, Martin Henderson, Kevin Durand, Ray Liotta and dozens more
  • Filmed in Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe
  • Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use
  • Theatrical Release Date: January 26, 2007

Guide Review - "Smokin' Aces" Movie Review

The Story

Jeremy Piven stars as Buddy 'Aces' Israel, a sleazeball magician who rolls with the big boys in Vegas and starts believing he's on par with mob boss Primo Sparazza. Aces has such a high opinion of himself he actually thinks he's ready to take over Sparazza's operation. But Primo's not ready to retire...

Buddy's forced to turn to the FBI for protection when Primo hangs a $1 million bounty on his head. After hightailing it to Tahoe, Aces' world starts closing in on him. The Feds want him in custody, hookers and hanger-oners abound, drugs are eating away his brain, and hitmen (and women) are crawling out of the wood work to blow him away. But as events unfold, absolutely nothing is as it seems.

To Sum It Up

Carnahan has created a dozen juicy characters and loaded the film with actors who don't just sink their teeth into the roles, but literally feast on his dialogue. From Ryan Reynolds as the film's moral compass to Jason Bateman as a lawyer with more than a few marbles loose to the trio of Chris Pine, Maury Sterling, and Kevin Durand as psychotic neo-Nazi killers, Carnahan's entire cast amps up their performances to match the writer/director's frenetic, hip style.

Some twists you see coming, but for the most part Carnahan's clever plot keeps you guessing. At 108 minutes, Smokin' Aces whizzes along, smashing through characters and set pieces at a jackhammer pace. There's so much taking place during the film it's tough to keep track of who's who.

It could be viewed as nothing more than a popcorn action flick, however there's more to Smokin' Aces than meets the eye. Underneath all the carnage, Smokin' Aces has a real story to tell. It might be disguised as senseless entertainment, and it's fine if that's the way you want to view it, but Carnahan smoothly incorporates a little heart and soul in the midst of all the blood and mayhem.


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