A Neat Trick

Its plot is messy as all get-out, But `Smokin'Aces' pleases along the way to its pat ending

Review B

January 26, 2007|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

It's hard to figure where it's going, and when the movie's over, it's even harder figuring where it's been. But the careening roller-coaster ride calling itself Smokin' Aces is such a hoot to be on, who really cares?

Best of all, writer-director Joe Carnahan injects a steady stream of black humor into the proceedings (at least until the final act, where things turn all serious and edifying). Unlike his previous film, the loathsome bloodbath Narc, Smokin' Aces revels in its absurdity. The acting is over the top, the story line is over the top, even the cinematography - stark overexposures and unflattering close-ups - is over the top. You don't believe a minute of it, but the film has such a reckless, gonzo sensibility that it's impossible not to get overwhelmed (in a good way) by its energy.

Smokin' Aces (Universal Pictures) Starring Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia, Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys. Directed by Joe Carnahan. Rated R. Time 107 minutes.

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