The uni-dimensional characters only add to the general feeling of apathy. Everybody from the mob boss to the whacky kid seems to come from the cardboard cut-out school of character development. Crazy neo-Nazi brothers? Check. Hot chick with a gun? Check. Psychopathic European guy? Yawn, yawn, yawn.
That said, there are a few flashes of brilliance, which are mainly thanks to the actors. Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta try their damnedest to make the most of the flimsy material, but still end up as gun-toting cliches. The only humour that actually works is of the weird and disturbing variety. It comes mainly from the youngest neo-Nazi brother, a great performance by the delicious Chris Pine (Just My Luck), and a neat little cameo by Jason Bateman as an alcoholic lawyer.
This off-centre edginess would be great if the film stuck to its guns throughout, but no, it has to paw at our already numb emotional buttons.
In the middle of all the skop, skiet ‘n donner, we are suddenly faced with long, tearful dialogues about betrayal and friendship. Then there’s a random message about how badly FBI agents are treated by the system they give their lives to serve. Never mind not gelling, these earnest moments seem to come from a completely different movie.
The most frustrating thing about Smokin’ Aces is that while it obviously has potential, it just keeps missing the mark. The fast-paced editing, unusual camera angles and retro titling are well done, but we’ve seen it all before from the ex-video store employee who defined 90s cinema. And Tarantino did it better.
With a little imagination, a more focussed script and a less derivative director, this could have been a kick-ass little film. Unfortunately, Smokin’ Aces fails to live up to its name, as it smoulders limply in a mish-mash of cliches and meandering story lines.
- Amanda Whitehouse
Even Jeremy Piven and Ray Liotta can’t save this muddled, multi-character story about mobsters, hitmen and the FBI. Tarantino this is not.
The film is so to say the ultimate package with a good director, good leading actor, and an all-star cast. Read More »
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If ever there was a reason why no government should ever have the death penalty, Shepherds and Butchers is why – a masterpiece of raw emotional trauma. Read More »
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