Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Smokin' Aces

(movie review)

I had never heard of this movie until I saw the case in my video store. Which actually happens to me a lot in Japan. The big movies like Harry Potter and Spiderman get big hyped up releases, but some of these minor Hollywood movies by-pass the Japanese movie theaters and media machine entirely, and I don't even know they exist until I see them in the video store.

When I lived in America, I always read the movie reviews page or saw commercials on TV, and I would at least know the premise of the movies I rented. In Japan I have a hard time even reading the back of the video box. Often it can be an interesting experience sitting down to watch a movie you know absolutely nothing about. Usually we're used to having half the movie given away by the previews. Starting out with a completely clean slate you don't have a clue what's going to happen next.

Of course this approach is not without its drawbacks. You do run into some real stinkers along the way as well. Case in point.

I've seen so many bad movies in my life that the competition for "Worst movie I've ever seen" is pretty stiff. But this movie is a contender.

The plot of the movie is that a former mobster turned stool pigeon is hiding out in a hotel in Lake Tahoe Nevada. The FBI is looking to grab him before the mob can. The bail bondsman are looking to get him before the FBI can. And several competing hitmen and mobsters are after him as well. Basically a whole lot of people are all competing to get to the same guy.

(This all sounds vaguely familiar. I have a feeling I've seen other movies with a similar plot, but I can't think of them right now. Does it ring a bell with anyone else?)

Anyway, with all the different characters and competing motivations, I was hoping for a while this movie would turn out something like "Lock, Stock, and two Smoking Barrels". A really complex plot where things get more and more ridiculous and intertwined as different characters keep intersecting paths with each other.

Unfortunately the writers of this movie don't have the brains to do that. So they just throw everyone together at the end for an orgy of violence.
Lots of people get shot up. None of the characters in this movie were people the film makers bothered to make you care about, so you just kind of watch all the blood and guts flying with a detached attitude. Or maybe you're supposed to laugh at some of the more gruesome deaths, like when the guy sat down on his chainsaw. I was never sure.

There is a very morbid sense of humor in this movie that is attempting to imitate (and perhaps attempting to outdo) Tarantino. They get all the blood guts and gore, but the humor falls flat.

There's a bit of a twist at the very end which is supposed to be a Keyser Soze moment, but I think most people will see it coming from a long way away. It's just way too obvious.

Link of the Day
Iraq: Exposing the Corporate Agenda

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