Thursday, 11 February 2010

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins Ball

Title: Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins Ball
Director: P.J. Pesce
Released: 2010
Staring: Tom Berenger, Clayne Crawford, Tommy Flanagan, Maury Sterling, Martha Higareda, Christopher Michael Holley, Ernie Hudson, Michael Parks, Autumn Resser, Vinnie Jones

Rating: 4 / 5
Plot: When Walter Reed, a wheelchair bound, desk jockey for the FBI suddenly finds himself the target of a Million Dollar hit and the assassins eager to claim it for themselves.

Review: The original “Smokin’ Aces” (2006) is without a doubt one of my all time favourite films, especially seeing how it came at a time when the whole crime genre, was once again starting to feel slightly stale only for Joe Carnahan, to breath new life into the genre, with his loud and noisy reinterpretation, which didn’t do much in terms of box office, but certainly found it’s audience once it reached DVD, so it really makes sense (in a strange random way), that the sequel would go straight to DVD.
True the original film might have not needed a sequel, but I was thankful at least that this film wasn’t some clumsy prequel and is really only a sequel in name only, with the only real link to the first film being, the return of two of the original assassins. The Chameleon like Lazlo Soot and psycho redneck Lester Tremor who once again shows up with his equally insane relatives.

As I’ve already stated this film is really a sequel in name only, but it really doesn’t stop it from being any less fun than the original, even though this latest outing is certainly working with a much smaller budget, than the original, which makes it all the more sense that Pesce would take the directorial reigns, seeing how he is a director all to familiar with the restraints of working in the direct to DVD market, with “Lost Boys 2: The Tribe” (2008) and “Sniper 3” (2004) already on his résumé, he makes for the ideal choice, especially with original director Carnahan returning only as executive producer and writer, which at least gives the proceedings a lot more legitimacy that most of these kinds of sequels receive, while clearly showing that Carnahan wasn’t quite done with the world which he created with the original and after seeing this film, I still can’t help but feel that “Smokin’ Aces 3” is a project just awaiting a studio green light.

Looking at the DVD case I did find it kind of worrying when Vinnie Jones is referred to as being a Hollywood veteran, as I’m sure it’s a title that even the most die hard of his fan base would have trouble attaching to him, especially when his recent output of the last few years has been patchy to the say the least, especially when Jones seems keen to take on pretty much any role which is offered to him. Still thankfully this is one of his better roles, even if it is basically Jones going through the Psycho killer motions, as he appears as a hitman nicknamed “The surgeon” after his bizarre love of combining brain surgery with torture. Still it would seem that his current target Walter Reed isn’t an overly appealing choice of target, especially when you consider that Jones’s character and Higareda’s, Ariella Martinez the assassin who brings a whole new meaning to the term “Kiss of Death” are really the only new faces, with the other new assasins all being members of the Tremor family, who this time round see the sole surviving Tremor from the first film Lester being joined this time by his father abusive father Fritz (Parks), his psycho sister Kaitlyn “AK-47” (Reeser) as well as his man-child younger brother Baby Boy (C. Ernst Harth), all of which being fans of the half brick to the face subtly, which made the Tremor’s such stand out characters in the original and it was fun to see the same level of anarchy brought to the sequel, after all can you think of another group of Assassins who believe in the use of exploding clowns?? Still I was kind of disappointed that we didn’t see the return of Pasquale Acosta aswell, but seeing how the whole plot is basically about the build up to a huge shoot out, in pretty much the same way that the plot of “Death Proof” (2007) is basically about the build up to it’s spectacular car chase finale, so his absence isn’t overly missed here, much like the lack of assassins which could be linked to budget restraints but thankfully because of this aforementioned direction of the plot, it really helps from making it to much of a cluster fuck, by the time we get to the night club shoot out finale.

The downside of course to being a sequel to a film, which didn’t really have a sequel in it, is of course the need that Pesce feels the need attach links to the first film, meaning that cards are once again a focus point of the film, with Reed throwing in a few card tricks while he hides out in the bunker from his would be assassins and this did honestly feel kind of unnecessary, especially when they pale in comparison to the tricks that Jeremy Pivan amused himself with thought the first film, in fact it was the snappy dialogue of the first film, which feels the most missed here, especially seeing how the majority of the dialogue rarely bares on remarkable, with the only memorable dialogue coming from the almost constant bickering of the Tremors.

All in all “Smokin Aces 2” proves to be one of the better direct to DVD sequels, of recent years and certainly is a fun ride that never outstays it’s welcome even, if it doesn’t reach the same heights of the original, it still manages to prove more than enough bang for your buck, so that by the time the dust has finally settled your far from disappointed.


  1. Yeah I think that alot of people who loved the original, will still get a kick out of this film, or just people who don't feel the need for every film to be a serious piece of cinema. It's really just ment to be a fun film and in that respect it suceeds.


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