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Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball

tn_smokinaces2SMOKIN’ ACES 2: ASSASSIN’S BALL is the rare DTV sequel that leaves 2 (two) obvious openings for porn parody titles, not to mention having the word “ass” in it twice. In that sense it is absolutely groundbreaking. The idea of a DTV sequel to a movie that not one single person in the world is passionate about is not as unusual (see: THE MARINE 2, BEHIND ENEMY LINES 2-3, THE ART OF WAR trilogy, etc.), but I guess technically this one is a prequel (it refers to a dead character as if alive). So this might actually be a historic milestone, I’m not sure.

I remember seeing a preview screening of SMOKIN’ ACES, and even those I-will-stand-in-line-for-several-hours-to-see-literally-any-piece-of-garbage-movie-as-long-as-it-is-free passholes seemed to hate it. But I have to admit I mostly enjoyed it because it had so many funny and audacious moments peeking out from beneath the big mess of a so-called story. The movie really doesn’t work, but I wanted it to because there were some real good parts. That’s what I think. And in the ensuing years I honestly haven’t met one single person who would give it that much.

mp_smokinaces2So as the world’s #1 SMOKIN’ ACES fan it is my duty to review this DTV followup, produced and storied by Joe Carnahan, written by two guys who were his assistants on the original, and directed by P.J. Pesce (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3, SNIPER 3, LOST BOYS 2). It’s mostly a lower budget rehash. A $3 million bounty has been put on a guy, this time not a douchey magician but an aging FBI desk jockey named Walter Weed. (He also does card tricks, so that they can hold onto the already tenuous name from part 1.) A bunch of colorful, gimmicky assassins have their names written on the screen and come try to shoot him, there is a bunch of flashy violence, then a sudden mudslide of plot twist exposition, the end. Short and sweet, at least.

It took me a minute to realize Walter was played by Tom Berenger. So… the sniper has become the sniped. I always like him, he’s not just a man’s man but a good actor and a great presence even in crappy movies. But I was bummed they had another character mention that he looked like the guy from PLATOON and SNIPER. Talk about lazy, SCREAM 3 type humor. Fuck that. That doesn’t count as a joke.

The assassins include: a hot seductress chick who switches between lingerie and a burqa; unlicensed freestyle brain surgeon Vinnie Jones; the evil master of disguise guy I forgot about from the first one; some members of the Tremor family. If you saw part 1 you might agree that the highlight was the Tremor Brothers, three heavily armed redneck lunatics who looked and acted like extras from a MAD MAX rip-off. Darwin Tremor went on to play Captain Kirk, and Jeeves Tremor was in, uh, WILD HOGS, so Lester Tremor returns with a sister, a fat brother and a dad played by Michael Parks (you know, Earl McGraw in various Tarantino movies). The Tremors provide the biggest laugh when they steal a cannon from the circus and fire an explosives-strapped clown through the side of the building.

The building, by the way, is a fully stocked bunker hidden beneath a jazz club. The agent who runs the place also  tends bar and plays saxophone.

It gets to the climax surprisingly fast, and despite some bad CGI explosions it’s funny to see such all out mayhem in an enclosed space. Parks smacks one of his sons on the head for using an RPG indoors. Not a close range weapon, he explains. In retrospect maybe the bunker should’ve been built beneath a heavily guarded fortress rather than a public dining area where the assassins are allowed to come in freely and hang out. But hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

The end makes you think, “Oh, so you guys saw THE USUAL SUSPECTS too?” but then there’s a little twist on that, so it left me surprisingly satisfied. Also nice to see Ernie Hudson coming after Berenger again – it’s a THE SUBSTITUTE class reunion.

Re-reading my review of the first one I remember that as ridiculous and excessive as it was it also had a little bit of weight to it, it made a point of treating at least a few of the characters with respect and showing their deaths as tragic, in a way that kind of messed with an audience’s bloodlust. Don’t expect that here. Wow, I just realized they made a dumbed down version of SMOKIN’ ACES. Welcome to 2010.

But I can’t be mad, it gave me some laughs and that’s the highest expectation I had for it. I’m not gonna try to persuade anybody to rent this, but if you were planning to I say go for it. It’s about what you expect, except maybe a little better. In fact I’d say it’s as good as you could realistically hope a DTV prequel to this particular movie would be. And it ends with an explosive quote from the legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. I don’t remember SNIPER 3 doing that. Never saw LOST BOYS 2.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 18th, 2010 at 11:44 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

52 Responses to “Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball”

  1. I enjoyed SMOKIN’ ACES, it was not a great movie, but it had some great moments

  2. I wasn’t aware that Smokin’ Aces was so disliked….I actually loved it, oh well wrong again.

  3. Out of interest Vern did you enjoy the Sniper films? I know you mentioned recently that you saw it and didn’t think it was worth reviewing or something, but I was curious if that meant you didn’t like them. I watched the first two recently and enjoyed them very much. And yes, I know the geography in Sniper 2 is fucked up at best and made up at worst.

  4. I never expected you to review this. I did watch this and thought it sucked compared with the first one, which was marginally watchable for some over-the-top moments as well as the small sensitive ones that you mentioned. And I did laugh at the end of this right in mid-howl of what a rip-off of The Usual Suspects it was.

    Like always, I wonder how in the world these random sequels are picked. There’s almost no audience for movies like this except for people who actually like the first one, so you’re already working with a limited audience even before you start. Kind of makes me wish the money could have gone to something new at least.

  5. Man, my copy of Gamer arrives tomorrow, I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it is given that you stopped watching it to go on and review this. Maybe I’ll start punching myself in the face early to prepare for the pending pain.

  6. Gamer is a bizarre film. I think my biggest problem is that I find the crank boys make films that leave me uncomfortable – I’m not a sensitive soul or anything, but crank and gamer are so excessively sweary, misogynistic and violent in a horrible way. It never feels like fun violence that it should be and the humour often seems cruel. I know it’s a cliched criticism but they really do feel like 15 year old teens so made a film with “awesome!” stuff like swearing and soft porn.

    So for a film that has an interesting premise like gamer you start to think hey maybe it’ll make some vaguely interesting comments about the issue of internet gaming and the anonymity over the internet along with decent action. Then you remember who directed it. So nothing is subtle, nothing intelligent is said. There’s touches of something, but they seem to be by accident. EG. the fat guy pretending to be a girl within the game. Guys pretending to be girls over the internet isn’t a shocking revalation but along with the teen boy getting to be gerard butler I thought there could be some interesting stuff about people projecting who they want to be onto the internet etc etc. But instead it’s just played for laughs, “haha, look how fat he is, and not just fat but obese! That’s disgusting”.

    I wish people would give Gerard Butler better films.

  7. gamer sucked indeed.

    the only nice thing about it is “society”. If they would have focused more on that idea, it could have been an intresting film.

  8. Here, here! Another fan of Smokin’ Aces 1!

  9. Then Ben Afflec death scene in SA 1 was brilliant I thought.

  10. Weird, I don’t know anybody who *didn’t* like SMOKING ACES.

  11. I too sort of liked Smokin’ Aces, although I can tell why it didn’t click with anything resembling a mass audience and it can be summarized in one particular scene (keep in mind that it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen it so I may get some details wrong):

    Pretty early on, after a couple of crazed killers gun down Ben Affleck and another guy, one killer goes to Ben Affleck’s corpse and has a conversation with it, even moving the corpse’s jaw kind of a like a mannequin to mimic speech.

    I laughed at the audacity of that, but even as I was laughing I figured a lot of people wouldn’t get it. Even back when aping Quentin Tarantino was still a huge sport among filmmakers, I don’t think anyone ever went so far as to have a psycho killer shoot someone down and then talk to the body, and act like the body is talking back.

    That scene to me sort of sums up the sheer audacious lunacy of the whole movie, and if you buy into that, you can enjoy it.

  12. Dieselboy, it seems you and I may be of a similar stripe, at least with regard to Affleck’s death in Smokin’ Aces.

    That was generally what happened, wasn’t it???

  13. Yeah, SMOKING ACES was okay, up until the very end when we’re supposed to feel conflicted about what Van Wilder is going through. Such a shift in tone left me waiting for some kind of joke that never came.

    The Ben Affleck scene was probably the best in the movie.

  14. My only real objection to SMOKIN’ ACES is that it is yet another movie that pushes this idea that lesbians can be “cured” of their orientation if they are given the opportunity to be swept away by the right dude. In that respect, it’s similar to GIGLI.

    But other than that, I didn’t find it any more objectionable than Guy Ritchie’s better stuff. With the added benefit of Jason Bateman doing really good at playing against type.

  15. Aces is great. 79% of it’s greatness is directly attributed to Ryan Reynolds.

    Maybe 83%.

  16. Jareth, you’re reading the lesbian angle wrong. Alicia Keys’ character was never gay. Her partner’s advances were clearly unwanted and made her uncomfortable. Perhaps the stereotype the movie was advancing was that of the aggressive bull dyke.

  17. I really don’t like Ryan Reynolds. He seems to be getting this reputation as “master of one-liners”, but I find him painfully unfunny. He was just embarassing in “Blade:Trinity”. I also thought he was awful in his “serious” role in the Amityville remake. I have to admit though, I came around to finding him mildly charming in (gulp!) “The Proposal” but in retrospect I think that was mostly because everything else was so intolerable that made him appear good in comparison.

  18. Fair enough, Mr. Majestyk, I’m probably mis-remembering the movie, or, god forbid, conflating it with GIGLI. At least I remembered the important stuff: Alicia Keys’ boots, John Cale’s “Big White Cloud” and Teen Wolf 2 in a speedo.

    What if GIGLI is like an oil spill in my head? and it starts seaping into other films? Is there a surgical procedure that can cure it? Preferably something a little less radical than the surgery at the end of BRAZIL.

  19. Man, I really am the only person who thinks Reynolds improved the Blade franchise, aren’t I? I think it’s because I never really thought Blade had much character on his own. He’d show little traces of life every now and then (usually when he said “motherfucker”) but usually he was just too stone-faced. He needed a little badass juxtaposition is what I’m saying. Reynolds didn’t particularly provide it, but he gave Blade someone to bounce off of, made all that stoicism look cool compared to all the sarcasm. I’m not usually one who thinks that what an action series really needs is a wacky sidekick, but I think this time it worked.

  20. Yeah Ryan Reynolds doesn’t do it for me either. I’m always aware I’m watching someone try to act when he’s on screen. His dialogue always seem too rehearsed and un-natural to me. It takes me out of whatever I’m watching him in. He was particularly horrible in Adventureland and Waiting. He was also in one of the worst travesties ever committed to film, Van Wilder.

    I know humor is subjective, but give me a fucking break. Van Wilder almost makes the stupidass Epic Movie and Date Movie shit tolerable.

    I slso hope he can wipe that smartass look off his face he has in everything and really try to get into the role of Green Lantern, a role he shouldn’t have gotten after ruining Deadpool.

  21. Oh yeah and Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms I hear.

  22. Yeah I liked SMOKIN’ ACES too.

    I don’t get the hate.

  23. I gotta say that Ryan Reynolds lacks all the starpower that he needs to be to survive longer than a few years, but he was hilarious in “2 Guys, A Girl & A Pizza Place”! (To be fair: It was one of the better written laugh track sitcoms of the late 90’s/early 00’s, so he probably just got elevated by the material.)

  24. Vern did you see those Charles Bronson Japanese adverts over on CHUD?

    http://chud.com/articles/articles/22204/1/WATCH-THIS-NOW-CHARLES-BRONSON039S-BIZARRE-JAPANESE-COMMERCIALS/Page1.html

    The first one seems innocuous enough, then suddenly we have shots of Bronson dressed as a cowboy/indian hybrid shooting at the screen, cut with shots of him rubbing his topless body with aftershave?. It’s bizarre and hilarious.

    I know the whole “oh japan are so wacky!” thing is a bit of a stereotype but I mean…their advertising execs aren’t helping, heh.

  25. Where do you think I got my avatar from?

    My ex-girlfriend gave me a bottle of Mandom for Christmas. Now I can smell like Bronson whenever I want. Maybe I shouldn’t have let that one get away…

  26. This may sound like a joke, but, honestly, I’m about 99 percent sure that the subtext of “Gigli” is that the Jennifer Lopez character is teaching Larry Gigli (Affleck) to understand and accept his own latent homosexuality.

  27. I feel like Rynolds could be great but isn’t being used very well at the moment. He’s got a unique kind of charm but people can’t seem to figure out if they should cast him as a hip college kid or a chiseled badass. Sadly, neither quite seems to work — not that he plays them badly, but neither role quite seems to take advantage of what he was to offer. He has a kind of surprisingly physicality which makes his Van Wilder-esque stuff seem kind of forced (the way casting 30-year-olds as college kids always does), but he’s too smarmy, pretty and boyish to be a real badass. I’m not conviced he’s the best actor in the world (his roles in ADVENTURELAND and AMITYVILLE HORROR REMAKE just kind of sit there, doing away with his charm but not replacing it with much of interest) but if he could hook up with a screenwriter who understood his persona I think he could have a very enjoyable career.

    Speaking of which, since they’re rebooting SPIDER-MAN he might actually be a great choice for a new Peter Parker. That might finally be something which suits him, especially since he seems to be dead set on playing superheroes.

  28. They’ve said they’re going back to high school for the new Spider-Man, so Reynolds is about 15 years too old. Not that that’s ever stopped them before.

    Besides, he’s already Green Lantern. Conflict of interest.

  29. I’m getting to that age where it gets increasingly difficult to distinguish young actors. I had to wrack my brains to remember if I’ve seen anything with Reynolds in it. Turns out I had confused him with the LARS AND THE REAL GIRL GUY.

    I get all the Jessicas confused too: Alba, Biel, Simpson. All except Jessica Tandy, the OG Jessica.

  30. Mr. Majestyk, your not the only one re: Ryan in Blade Trinity.

    You and me.

    That’s it though.

    Amityville? Better than the original.

    I can’t look at Margot Kidder. I just can’t.

  31. I thought SMOKIN’ ACES had some good moments, but there was too much that didn’t work. The pacing, the tone shift towards the end, the confusing flood of twists, Jeremy Piven. The Tremor brothers were the best thing about it by far. The dead-Affleck puppetry is probably one of my top cinematic moments of the last decade, no lie.

    As for Ryan Reynolds, I really don’t get him either. He worked well on TV in a sarcastic, self-aware 90s kind of way, but I haven’t really bought him in anything he’s been in since. I tend to get him confused with Jason Lee though, so maybe it’s my own fault. Speaking of Lee, I hope Vern somehow reviews ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL (way better comedy sequel name than PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS btw) because GARFIELD THE ASSHOLE CAT was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

  32. Yeah, the original Amityville Horror is one of those classic horror movies that actually sucks. I can see how the remake could improve on it simply by having stuff, like, happen.

  33. Pacman – I loved SNIPER and enjoyed the sequels as above average DTV. I thought I reviewed them but I guess I just watched them for an unfinished book project. I hope to at least review the first one some time when I feel like watching it again.

    Clubside – I ended up finishing GAMER the next day, so I’ll have a review soon. But yeah, be warned. I talked to people who thought it was okay, but I’m not one of them.

  34. Smokin’ Aces , the original , has moments . I find some elements funny , and some elements lame . I liked the Tremors , but I loved the cabin scene with the little karate kid . I find that shit hilarious . In my opinion , Ryan Reynolds still hasn’t proven himself , I liked him in Aces but I find him annoying in Blade Trinity . I don’t think he ruined Deadpool in the last Wolverine movie , that character was written that way , and he had to work with that , and I honestly think he is the right choice for the role ( if they make a movie respectful of the comic ), more than he is for Green Lantern . We will see.

    On another note , I liked Sniper 1 and 2 , the second one in particular . Craig Baxley has something good in every movie , and the last fight/action set in Sniper 2 is fantastic . Also , explosions .
    I’ve never seen Sniper 3 , is it any good ?

  35. !!!WARNING!!!

    I got Lost Boys 2: Port of Call New Orleans (We’re still doing that, right?) when it first came out on DVD. The first ten minutes is pretty awesome and from what I remember it had some neat parts at the end but I could have been dreaming that because I kept nodding off.

    The only reason you should watch Lost Boys 2 is if you want to rip into a bad movie, but even then it’s such a boring movie it might not even be worth it.

    As a side note I knew it would be bad, but I thought it would at least be campy. It couldn’t even raise itself above my ridiculously low expectations. Just so you know where I was coming from when I saw it. And to be honest, I thought the trailer for LB2:PoCNO looked pretty cool.

  36. “And in the ensuing years I honestly haven’t met one single person who would give it that much.”

    Vern – Well I do. The story is…well, it works. Silly but it works. Its Carnahan playing Tarantino, and it works. Fuck’all, it does.

    I mean seriously, how can someone hate a movie when a certain movie star unexpectedly gets murdered early on when you assume he’s going to be the lead?

    Also I laughed when that chainsaw fell and…yeah.

    Shit I even liked the ending.

  37. Wasn’t aware smokin’ aces was so disliked too… isn’t it a cult movie now?

  38. Well, I can never find anybody who likes SMOKIN’ ACES around here, or even anybody who gets excited about that awesome scene with the guy playing with Affleck’s corpse. But I hereby relinquish my title as #1 fan.

  39. I have to say I don’t think the Amityville remake is as good as the original. And I don’t think the original was any good, so you can guess how little I think of the remake.

    Amityville II: The Possession? Now THERE’s some good stuff.

  40. I love that scene. “Do you really think so?” “I KNOW so.” You had to be there.

  41. I didn’t think Gamer was too awful, but I’ll say this: The Bruce Lee shit towards the end was unacceptable and pointless.

    Hey Vern, random question: Ever see something called Tiptoes? I saw it yesterday. A strange experience. It’s a more a soft TV movie drama than dwarfsploitation, but it does have Gary Oldman putting in an eerily convincing performance as a dwarf. Not exactly good, but odd.

  42. As far as Reynolds playing Spiderman goes, I think he’s already over his one-superhero role per movie star quota.

    And yeah I guess the writing in Wolverine was really Deadpools downfall. Hopefully the movie he’s making now doesn’t stick with that stupid fucking Deadpool that has no mouth and every mutants powers.

    I can’t be the only person who sat staring at the movie screen, mouth hanging open, as they shit all over one of Marvels greatest villains. None of that shit with giving him extra powers was necessary. It kind of tainted all the enjoyable stuff that came before it, cause everytime I think of the movie i just see dumbass Deadpool fighting Wolvie and Sabretooth on top of a nuclear silo(practical fighting locale for sure).

    Oh yeah and the Lobo movie with be PG-13.

  43. It’s confirmed they’re heading back to high school with the new Spidey trilogy, looking to “ultimate spider-man” comics for inspiration, and hoping to cast relative unknowns. Which is all pretty good, also Marc Webb (500 days of summer) is directing, which i think they chose just for the irony of his name and potential “webb spins spiderman” pun headlines.

    They’ve budgeted it at $80mil. Which is good and bad, it’s nice to see them not feeling the need to splurge 100s of millions on a superhero film, especially when stuff like District 9 showed what you can do with a smaller budget. But then Wolverine had a similar sized budget and looked atrocious.

  44. There’s a PG-13 LOBO movie in the works ? Holy. Shitballs .

  45. GoodBadGroovy – Budgets and CGI are almost secondary to a decent script. WOLVERINE didn’t have a script. Neither did SPIDER-MAN 3, and apparently #4 as well before it got terminated.

  46. I don’t see why they need a Lobo movie period, let alone a PG-13 one. He’s a one-note joke character that’s been pushed well beyond his expiration date.

  47. RRA - #1 Smokin' Aces Fan

    January 24th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Like Venom?

  48. Smoking Aces 1 kicked ass and so did the sequel. I don’t care what anyone says. With the budget they had i think they made the best of it. I also think this video gives some good insight into what they were given and what they made with it –>http://video.yahoo.com/watch/6765946/17583129

    Also, this was easily one of Berenger’s best roles!

  49. Whoa, there’s mean spambots now?

  50. ^^^ wow, I just don’t know what to say about the name of THAT spambot

  51. You know what I like about spambots? They’re so friendly and acommodating.

  52. MILD SPOILER – All this talk recently about how mid-to-late April is full of American tragedies (Waco, Oklahoma City, and now Boston, plus Virginia Tech and Columbine) actually is a major plot point in Smoking Aces 2, which I just saw on Netflix Instant and takes place on April 19th. I wouldn’t say it’s “better” than the first one (which I didn’t really like and somehow found so forgettable I barely remember this “dead Affleck puppet scene” you guys are referring to in the comments), but with the lowered expectations of sequels and DTV, (and the more cartoonish characters and plot) I found myself enjoying it more. Being barely 80 minutes helps too.

    BIG SPOILER – Actually the more I think about the government conspiracy plot, the more I think it might be a wee bit offensive. One of the twists is that the assassins were all responsible for committing atrocities for the US government, which would be fine and dandy, but they use real life events like the Madrid train bombing. Pinning that on the US Government is questionable enough (veering dangerously close to Infowars territory) but also, we’re expected to believe the Tremor family went overseas to assassinate people in Spain? For some reason I don’t see them boarding a plane or getting through customs.

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