By the end of the needlessly complicated six-minute montage of major plot points and backstory at its very onset, Smokin' Aces began to seem suspiciously familiar. And then it hit me: You know that super badass screenplay you cooked up in your hormone-addled little mind after an especially revelatory weekend watching third-rate Tarantino rip-offs in your bedroom back in junior high? Smokin' Aces—in all of its obvious, clichéd, and inexplicable glory—is that movie.
Starring the criminally squandered Jeremy Piven as the titular Buddy "Aces" Israel—a Vegas magician turned gangster turned FBI informant—the bulk of Smokin' Aces concerns the introduction and subsequent adventures of an army of independent mercenaries, all of whom converge on a Lake Tahoe hotel in pursuit of the mob bounty on Israel's head. Naturally, each of these assassins (among them Ben Affleck and Alicia Keys) has a ridiculous backstory and an ensuing quirk designed explicitly for the sake of plot progression, and which are all too unmemorable to dignify with a recap. Oh yeah, and the FBI (represented here by Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, and that Canadian guy who played Van Wilder) are also racing to Tahoe. Of course, this is ultimately all just an elaborate pretense for the true star of Smokin' Aces: gratuitous violence and music video pomp and circumstance with an expiration date circa '96. And those, in a nutshell, are the film's finer points.
Other gems to anticipate: an obscene glut of an ensemble cast without a single identifiable character, a painfully lengthy sequence featuring a jive-talkin' backwoods white kid, a willful ignorance of even the most rudimentary aspects of casino security, playing cards used as deadly weapons, a characteristically delightful Jason Bateman cameo, and a completely unfathomable plot twist that you won't give a shit about by film's end. I think that's all of it—I mean, I pretty much stopped paying attention after one of the hitmen tore off his face, Scooby-Doo style. No, seriously.
Smokin' Aces: As good a reminder as anything that you were a fucking moron in middle school.