Smokin' Aces

Film
THE LADY KILLER Keys, right, brings her plan to the table.
THE LADY KILLER Keys, right, brings her plan to the table.

Time Out says

Barrels of bullets, piles of broken glass and scores of shredded-to-ribbons corpses all add to the sound and fury of writer-director Joe Carnahan’s fast, furious and spectacularly shallow spectacle of a mob-hit movie. Not a fresh idea emerges from this risible exercise in muscle-car camerawork, squib-crazy shoot-outs and self-admiring pyrotechnics, in which Las Vegas magician-turned-mafioso Buddy “Aces” Israel (Piven) is the target of a quadruple contract when his betrayal of Cosa Nostra fossil Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) makes him a marked man. Hiding out in the penthouse of a Lake Tahoe casino, Israel whores it up and cokes his way into oblivion, while contract killers try to outhustle each other and FBI agents (Reynolds and Liotta) do their best to referee.

A clutch of low-wattage stars pop up in colorful bit parts, including Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck and even Alicia Keys as a sexy assassin, giving the movie its few moments of lighthearted irreverence. But whatever goodwill Carnahan earned with his superior cop flick Narc is squandered among too many characters and too little story development—not to mention a turkey of a twist ending. “Make it make sense,” one character pleads, in the film’s most unintentionally knowing dialogue. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.)—Stephen Garrett

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