We all love those British gangster movies that have an incredible blend of comedy, action, and straight-up weirdness, don't we? Of course we do. And why wouldn't we? Great acting, lots of humor, and lots of accents that make the gangsters sound like they are way smarter than they are.
For the longest time, the U.S. refused to embrace the weirdness in its gangster films. "Make them dark," they insisted. "The only jokes we want to hear are quips relevant to the way that character dispatched another character." And it stayed that way for millennia. Our only respite on this side of the Atlantic was Quentin Tarantino movies. You might as well just cover yourself in day-after White Castle hate-shits and call it a day.
But then 2006 rolled around, bringing with it a little film with a big cast called Smokin' Aces.
Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta are Messner and Carruthers, two FBI agents who discover what they believe is a plot by a dying mob boss, Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin), to kill Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven), a drug addict magician and wannabe crime boss himself. A reward of a million dollars is offered to whomever kills Israel and brings his heart to Sparazza. This draws the attention of two groups and a few lone hitmen.
|Are you Mindfreaked yet?!|
The second team are the neo-Nazi Tremor brothers, Darwin (Chris Pine), Jeeves (Kevin Durand) and Lester (Maury Sterling). They are incredibly unstable and violent, but surprisingly organized.
Lazlo Soot (Tommy Flanagan), a Hungarian whose real talent is the art of disguise, is a lone hitman. He can make a realistic latex mask in minutes, it seems, and sneak his way into his target's inner circle to make the kill. The other potential killer is believed to be known as "The Swede" (Vladimir Kulich), a mysterious man who is hardly seen.
At the same time, an attorney named Ripley "Rip" Reed (Jason Bateman) is sent by the firm that paid for Israel's bail bond to meet with a team of skip tracers--Jack Dupree (Ben Affleck), "Pistol" Pete Deeks (Peter Berg) and Hollis Elmore (Martin Henderson)--to bring Israel in before his bond is revoked.
|These ladies don't have time for fuckery. They've got people to kill!|
Israel's attorney (Curtis Armstrong) is talking with FBI Deputy Director Locke (Andy Garcia), trying to work out a deal for Isreal where he will offer testimony about Sparazza's organization. The attorney contacts Israel to let him know that a deal is possible, but he has to tell the FBI everything. Israel doesn't want to give up the guys in his crew, but after the attorney tells him nothing goes forward if he doesn't turn in everyone, he agrees.
Dupree, Deeks and Hollis make their way to Lake Tahoe and rent some uniforms that match the ones worn at the hotel where Israel is holed-up. As Dupree is explaining their plan in a parking lot not far from the hotel, they are attacked by the Tremor brothers, who shoot the skip tracers and dump their bodies in a nearby lake, What they do not realize, however, is that Elmore is still alive, although he is suffering from hypothermia and has three fingers shot off his left hand. He slowly makes his way to a nearby home, where he is helped by an elderly woman and her young grandson, who suffers from ADHD and keep threatening to use karate on Elmore.
|Still more emotive than his performance in Batman v Superman.|
Lazlo Soot has made his way quietly to the hotel, where he gets the drop on one of Israel's men, Hugo Croop (Joel Edgerton), and kills him with a spike through the heart. He then closes Croop's head in a wooden box and fills it with foam latex to make a mold for a mask that will allow him to sneak into Israel's suite.
Acosta also makes his way to the hotel because he wants a crack at Israel, as well. Using a fake FBI I.D., he contacts Bill (Matthew Fox), the head of security, to learn the layout of the hotel and, specifically, the penthouse. He then kills Bill and steals his security uniform.
|Not putting up with anybody's shit.|
Messner arrives in time to hear that there was shooting inside the hotel. All of the elevators have been shut down and the hotel put on lockdown. He takes a team up the emergency stairwell to find his partner. A second group, led by Locke, makes their way to Israel's penthouse.
|Intellectual giants, the Tremor brothers.|
The Tremor brothers, who were inside an elevator when they shut down, use a portable generator to start it back up, and they make their way to Israel's floor. When they arrive, all hell breaks loose as they attack the FBI team.
Messner's team, meanwhile, has surrounded the elevator with Acosta, Carruthers and Sykes in it, and a shootout ensues when Messner sees his partner dead. Watters, watching through her rifle's scope, sees a dead prostitute dressed similarly to Sykes, and assumes it is her, causing Watters to start firing at the FBI agents. Bodies go flying everywhere!
But what about Israel? Will Soot get his heart for Sparazza? Will Ivy, who sneaked away as the Tremors came out of the elevator, survive? What about Sykes? Will she get out of her elevator alive? Or will Watters accidentally kill her for real with her rage-shooting? And where's Hollis in all this? And finally, what, in general, the hell?
You'll have to tune in to find out!
Jake picked this one, and he really likes it. He compares it favorably to Tarantino's style of film, and adds that the cast is phenomenal. If he had one complaint, it would be the inconsistency of the overall look of the film.
Larry also digs it, especially Chris Pine's wackjob of a character. There is a specific scene with Ben Affleck (see the GIF with him in it) that makes him giggle uncontrollably. This is not a bad thing, and he doesn't even care if it was.
Derek is a fan, and he is also somewhat angry that he never picked it up all those times he saw it at the video store. Live and learn, we guess. His one complaint was a lack of closure with a couple of the characters.
So get your deck of trick playing cards, put on some gaudy sunglasses, and check out this week's episode!