Smokin Aces is a poor manís Kill Bill or Usual Suspects. On the surface itís all cool characters and graphic violence but underneath there just isnít much there.
Director Joe Carnahan is no Tarantino or even a Guy Ritchie. Heís got the rhythm and he knows the moves but he just isnít getting the point. Heís a wanna be. He manages to dazzle a little but it ends up kinda cold.
Smokin Aces tries to pack too much into too little. At 108 minutes, the film just isnít long enough for its roster of characters. Everyone only gets a few minutes of screen time. He introduces us to his rogues gallery but then doesnít allow them to shine. Maybe thatís for the best as none of them are thought through deeply enough to sustain anything. each is a bit of a caricature. Unlike Tarantino who creates characters who feel like they have volumes of back history written for them, Carnahanís characters seem cool but run out of coolness quick. Besides, there are too many to get too attached to.
His plot is even thinner. Its set up is good, all the crew are converging on one spot with their (slightly) different agendas. There is potential for a lot of fun. However, like the characters, the story just isnít thought through enough. It falls flat. Itís fun on a basic level but doesnít provide anything deep enough to enjoy repeated viewings.
Movies like Smokin Aces live and die by the characters and dialogue. Carnahan is obviously trying to go for the cool factor but his little riffs are mildly amusing but mostly tired. Weíve seen this all before, done much better. His ďtwistĒ ending isnít done very stealthfully and it requires a bit more suspension of disbelief than the film has currency for. Maybe if his set up was better I would have bought the end.
Funny how he manages to rush through everything else and then come to the end and drag out the explanation to the point of tedium.
Anyway, I am being to hard on Smokin Aces. Itís fun enough for what it is. Itís just not as cool as it thinks it is.
My favorite part which is worth mentioning is the cameo by Jason Bateman. He is by far the funniest thing in this movie. With this and 3 amazing seasons of Arrested Development, hopefully he will starte getting better roles in the future.