Movie Review: ‘Smokin Aces’

It doesn’t take much to entertain audiences these days. Give them some violence, some laughs, some twists and do it in style, and you’ve got yourself a winner. This formula never makes for a great movie, but almost certainly makes for a watchable one.

The idea behind “Smokin Aces” isn’t very simple, nor logical. But it requires lots of stars, violence and stylistic overtones. Which makes for, according to the formula above, a very flashy, enjoyable movie-going experience.

Writer/director Joe Carnahan (who did the gritty and fantastic “Narc”) wastes no time with this one. Once the movie gets underway, we’re introduced to at least a dozen characters, most of whom happen to be your average psychopathic, raging, scumbag hitman. It’s these charismatic, mannered individuals who happen to be focusing their sights on the cracked-out, Vegas performer who goes by the name Buddy Israel (Jeremy Piven). Israel happens to be an FBI informant with key information that could bring down a big mob boss. So naturally there’s a price on his head, which every known hitman in the area has their hopes on getting.

If there’s one thing “Smokin’ Aces” isn’t lacking in, it’s in the imagination department. It’s just too bad most of the clever tricks and eye-candy happen to be stolen from other films of higher caliber and repute. Still, “Smokin’ Aces” is fun, if you let yourself have fun with it. It’s a stylized, violent mess of a good time. And you can never have too many of those.

Danny Gordon can be contacted at