Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Written & Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Story By: Joe Carnahan, Rob Rose & Jerry Corely
Cinematography By: Yasu Tanida
Editor: Kevin Hale
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Jessica Alba, Brooklyn Decker, James Badge Dale, Chris Pine, Ray Liotta, Ed Helms, David Hasselhoff, Jason Mantzoukas
A hard-luck limo driver struggling to go straight and pay off a debt to his bookie takes on a job with a crazed passenger whose sought-after ledger implicates some seriously dangerous criminals.
After his more subdued and great film THE GREY. Joe Carnahan Is back with this action, comedy.
His highly energetic sense of direction and pace is here more in His SMOKIN' ACES mode. Only more comedic with less heart and melodrama yet equal craziness, With more visceral scenes. That makes it seem like here he just wanted to make something be creative and excuse some demons. Releasing his pent up imagination and frustration on the screen. That see's him relying more on skills, instinct and usually rather than story a character. Thought his film has his usual machismo charm all over it. As him and Guy Ritchie seem to be one of the few directors who do this well. usually
This seems like a type of character piece from the 70's as we spend the whole movie mainly with one character and experience his adventures in one night that will come to define his future. It's not as deep a character study in fact it’s more like an 80's over the top character study that asks what would you do in these extreme situations. To run off of as go to the races. as we watch a normal guy go though them.
As crazy as the film is it never loses it’s composure or goes off the wall. That you can't follow. Though it does fill you with excitement as to what will happen next.
The film is filled with humorous cameos.
Chris Pine in an uncredited supporting role is over the top and yet seems like he is trying too hard and strangely resembling Adrian Grenier. That he even threatens to derail the film a bit with his performance. Though luckily reigns it back in eventually.
Patrick Wilson is actually top notch in the leading role. Showing the skill and charm of a leading man that do the first time is apparent with this film.
Even Jessica Alba is good and her acting skills are finally catching up to her beauty. --Ed Helms is good here though goes way over the top that becomes more annoying then funny or helpful as the devil’s advocate in Stretch’s head
The film is just fun and full of energy. Rather than being a brain twister and thinking t it smarter then you each second. It is rather simple.
The film is predictable and colorful that takes us on a tour of Los Angeles with it's underground locations and pleasure palaces that might be a path to hell or a path out of hell. We watch as the film had a more macho type of cinema. The film bathes in a masculine vie throughout with economy a dude or bro type cinema.
In this film no one is quite who they seem playing a role. for good, bad and ironic since the film plays out in L.A. So everyone is a performer and shows off, but when desperate show who they really are. So we keep seeing what they want to show their magic and once we look past thy they reveal themselves.
The film reminds me Of Guy Ritchie's film REVOLVER. In style that film was beautiful it's story was a little too hokey and took itself way too seriously. This film is pretty to look at especially what it manages to do on a low budget, but continuously has a sense of humor about itself. It knows it's appeal and is cocksure. Though both films deal with main Characters as their philosophies here it is a minor point rather than a major one that threatens to overpower the narrative like REVOLVER
Is it just a coincidence Ray Liotta is in both films? Though I will admit that Joe Carnahan is a master at having celebrity cameos that come out of nowhere in his films and really let’s the actors rip or let’s them be almost unrecognizable in roles we are not used to seeing them in or unaccustomed to seeing them play.That was the strength of SMOKIN’ ACES was that most of the cast were character actors or up and coming actors who had yet to define themselves.
If I had to boil this film down think of the CRANK movies with better Pacing directed by Sam Peckinpah (if he was still alive. During his cocaine period) P.S. i enjoy the CRANK movies