Miles on Movies

Smokin' Aces

reviewed by R. Miles Mendenhall

The critics were right. If you’re looking for a misogynistic shoot’em up with horror show violence, where most of the characters who die are so depraved, perverted, disgusting, odious and psychotic that their deaths are welcome, then this may be the movie for you. Lots of other characters die as well; anonymous security guards, hookers and FBI agents, all die copiously and anonymously. A few good cops go down, a few less egregious hoods eat it. It’s hard to sympathize with a main character who’s a scumbag with utterly no redeeming value and lot’s of attributes that make him easy to hate. The director / scriptwriter, Joe Carnahan, seems to have missed this basic narrative rule.

The jokes are forced and often not funny. An attempt to put militant feminist views in the mouths of two hitwomen is soon discredited when they start spouting demeaning sexist labels for prostitutes while referring to other women, who are prostitutes. One of the groups roundly insulted are murderous tweaking neo-nazi crackers, that was the one caricature I actually enjoyed because they were so frenetically over the top, plus I really do despise such folk, if anyone even exists in the extreme form here portrayed. There is one monologue from a black henchmen on loyalty, trust and street authenticity that stands alone as a good piece of macho philosophy, but it’s not enough to redeem this thing.

The denouement is convoluted and confused. And (SPOILER ALERT) the twist that the FBI is in bed with the mob, while satisfying so someone like me, and which has some ring of historical truth, is ruined by the implausible moralistic conclusion.

This film is more lame than odious. But it carries plenty of both deficits. All the tricks and twists have been done many times before, and much better. Everything is telegraphed from a mile off. I did laugh at the hyperactive karate kid wannabe tweener nerd boy and his loquacious white trash grandmother. Although the kid was so irritating that it was a wonder the mutilated bail bondsman didn’t give him a spanking. No I don’t support corporal punishment, but it would have been in character for the bondsman to give him a swat. On the other hand recently having all but one finger blown off of your hand might make spanking a skinny little ten year old ripped on Ritalin, wielding nunchucks, channeling Ralph Macchio’s “Karate Kid” character, post Mr. Miyagi influence, might prove problematic, and very painful.

If you’re a lesbian, or in any way sympathetic to lesbians, women or people in general, you will hate, to the point of wanting to throw up, the resolution to the relationship between the two black hitwomen. Although the .50 caliber sniper rifle one of them wields is truly awesome in a mass destructive and murderous way.

This is a film only to be watched drunk and stoned at home in an anti-social funk while lots of other things are going on to distract you from the constant irritation it will provide.

Just so you know, I went because everything else in the theaters, that I haven’t seen yet, interests me less.

But tomorrow, “Venus” with Peter O’Toole opens at the Rialto! While septuagenarian males romancing teenage girls creep me out, it’s Sir Peter F&^*ing O’Toole! “Awrance!” And the reviewers have been writing good things about it.

Wait, he hasn’t been knighted. It was offered and he turned it down in 1987, something about the “troubles” at the time and he’s a proud Irishman. Erin go Brach!

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