For anyone who has watched reality television in the last couple years and you will see just what some people would do to get their hands on a million dollars. Well imagine if someone put a million dollars on your head, or more specifically your heart. Well Vegas entertainer turned mobster turned snitch Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven) learned in the action packed Smokin' Aces. Well at least he would have known how that felt if he wasn’t self-quarantined in a penthouse in Tahoe with more than enough women, drugs, and bodyguards which includes Common.
Starting out just as clueless as Israel are the Feds (Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta) that are assigned to bring in the mobster in so he can testify against his former cohorts. It isn’t until they get to the hotel that the million dollar mark on Israel has brought out a wide array of hired assassins that have descended on the town hoping to collect the heart of the rat before he is able to tell is story. And what an array of hoodlums they are including a female duo (Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson) who come complete with the biggest gun despite being the smallest physically. Then there is a master of disguise that can transform himself into almost anyone and how he does it extremely creepy. Even creepier is the torture expert played by Nestor Carbonell who has a disturbing run-in with Lost co-star Matthew Fox in a wig as bad as the one from his mullet flashbacks.
But the grizzliest of the mercenaries are the Tremor Brothers, born of the same mother but all have different dads and even though there are numerous great elevator scenes throughout the movie, their exit out of it ranks the highest as they sport some unconventional weapons for assassins. The neo-Nazi brother also have a run in with a trio of bail bondsman (Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Martin Henderson) who are hired by a lawyer (Jason Bateman) who like to wear things that most men don’t to retrieve the mob boss from skipping bail.
The action comes quick and frequently with just a few a few soft spots like when the grandmother and her little too excited grandson show up. And you couldn’t ask for much better cast than this, you know it is great when Piven is the weak link (he goes overboard a couple times). The big surprise is Keys who more than pulls off the female assassin role (although I’d still rather her stick to music) and Affleck who is much more palatable as a bit player than the leading man role he undeservingly gotten lately. And for a few laughs, check out the bloppers on the DVD to see just how bad of a pool player Affleck is.
Smokin' Aces gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.