(PG15) US. Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Alicia Keys
This indulgent, luridly mounted actioner sees Hollywood golden boy Jeremy Piven horribly miscast as the crestfallen Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel, a coke-addled Vegas showman and FBI informant turned sitting duck as he waits for one of a number of eccentric mercenaries to bust down his door and fulfil a hit.
Just as Carnahan’s previous Narc paid homage to ’70s cop thrillers such as The French Connection, with Smokin’ Aces he’s chosen to salute the kitsch, style-over-substance chase comedies of the ’80s, making this a poor man’s Midnight Run.
The film’s whimsicality is a big step back for the director, who shows he has little handle over anything bar garish action set-pieces, replacing narrative structure and character development with Ben Affleck in a barrow-boy hat and Andy Garcia as an FBI chief with a bizarre accent. On the plus side, Jason Bateman supplies an amusing cameo as a drink-addled lawyer, and there’s a soulful turn from Alicia Keys as a slinky assassin. Other than that, it’s just a big old mess.