Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball (2010): Breakdown by Rantbo
Smokin’ Aces (now with 100% LESS, Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel and his contracted demise) 2 (this isn’t a sequel): Assassins’ Ball (another lie—literally and figuratively, there isn’t one). Hmm. Well—BANG! BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG!!! Good enough?
While I made sure to not allow my previous luke-warm distaste for the “First” film taint my perspective before giving this prequel a chance, it still started out, pre-viewing, with two strikes against it as, #1 The title is just plain fuckin’ retarded, and #2, it’s directed by P.J. ‘LOST BOYS 2’ Pesce (Raper Of Childhood Hopes And Dreams). So not off to a good start.
OK, allow me to begin with the story (so far as I was able to piece it together into something coherent…) The film begins much like it’s “sequel” with a large free-market contract being placed on the head of someone under heavy protection. In this case, a wheelchair bound FBI desk-jockey played by a slumming (hard to believe, I know) Tom Berenger. While the reason he is wanted dead is essentially the “mystery” of the film, I won’t spoil it, but it’s pretty inconsequential anyways after being buried beneath the sub-par acting and slow-mo fetishsized shoot outs. So Berenger is moved to a secret underground bunker, located beneath a secret government jazz club (for some reason), to wait out his contract’s mysterious short-window payout time-frame. And, of course, a bunch of loud-mouth, jack-off hitmen storm the place and much chaos ensues. ~Fin~
While this sounds like a fine and dandy set-up for a mad-cap action flick, it is told through such an abrasive narrative that jumps from insane sensory overload to eye-rubbing, mind-numbingly boring dialogue and exposition, that I just found myself getting sleepy. And I was actually shocked that they managed to make a movie with even less character development and more stylized horseshit than SMOKIN’ ACES. A feat I figured impossible. And the shit just doesn’t add up. Again, I was a little sleepy toward the end, but I think I still have some questions that went unanswered…
– Why did Vinnie Jones’s character fall in love with the Latina chick 10 minutes after meeting her?
– Why is this a prequel? Was it really just so they could get ONE of the three dead Tremor brothers back?
– Was I really supposed to give a shit about the 19 or so FBI agents, half of which the filmmakers deemed worthy enough to have their own freeze-frame title cards, yet died in just the same non-descript “Wait, who was that?” manner as the ones who didn’t?
– And are Oliver Stone and Guy Richie going to sue for creative theft?
The whole thing just screams “Ill-conceived!” But, I did enjoy a few aspects. While not nearly as great as the films it’s homaging (ripping off), the big shoot-out in the jazz club was fairly entertaining. I say fairly as 95% of the bullets fired hit nothing but air and décor, but when the other 5% connect, it was bloody clear and made for some great kill-shots.
Some great character-actors fill in a handful of the minor roles (glorified cameos), including Tommy Flanagan (Scarfaced dude from BRAVEHEART and SIN CITY), Michael Parks (Earl McGraw from those good movies of this ilk), Ernie Hudson (The Black Ghostbuster) and the previously mentioned, Vinnie Jones (on loan from Guy Richie). So it was nice to see all of them. And while most of the “zany” humor (see the Epic Moment) fell flat as a titless board, there were several moments (nearly all involving Michael Parks) that genuinely cracked a smile on my sour puss. But in the end, it just wasn’t enough to get my eyes to pop open with any enthusiastic longevity. So I give it a dead-center middle grade. With all the really great and really shitty DTV flicks that have been springing up lately, it was only a matter of time before some middle-of-the-road crap popped it’s head out of the B-Movie’s bum to say “Howdy!” and that’s SMOKIN’ ACES 2: ASSASSINS’ BALL. I’d recommend watching it only if you’re a big SMOKIN’ fan, or if you’re seriously deprived of new action flicks to devour.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Fucking ensemble movies… Short and bitter, here we go:
The Target: Tom Berenger
Tom Berenger. I thought he was dead. A quick IMDb check, and it turns out it was just his career. So—Tommy plays the role of the rat-race cheese and spends nearly all of his screen time wheelchair bound, performing impossible card tricks and mumbling out his hackie dialogue, that when played backwards sounds like “What…fuck…career?…Paycheck—paycheck….” So, no. He didn’t put any foot to ass, he just sat around on his own.
The Feds: Christopher Michael Holly, Clayne Crawford, David Richmond-Peck, Jason Schombing, Jared Keeso, Hrothgar Mathews
How could I pick just one when I hated them all!? Every last one a stereotype and yet only one of any actual character: Redstone, the homophobic dickhead. I know it sounds fuckin’ impossible, but it’s true. What’s worse, only two of these guys manage to pull off anything remotely badass. Little survives a shootout and Baker gets the most satisfying kill (more on this later, obviously) and that’s it. The rest are just undeveloped cannon-fodder.
The Tremors: Michael Parks, Maury Sterling, C. Ernst Harth, Autumn Reeser
Remember how cool those three guys were in the future? Rhetorical and nonsensical. And badly worded. Ignore that question. Ah, The Tremors. The sole (so far as I can gather) reason for this prequel. And two of them said “No thanks” to reprising their roles. Well, that’s just fine. Where there’s a Lester, there’s a way. Adding to the pathetic re-gathering of the sole “returning” Tremor is Papa, Sis and Other Brother that nobody knew or cared existed. The father’s played by Michael Parks, and as I mentioned above is the saving grace of this venture, but as for the rest, I pose a question: Is this the best y’all could do—seriously? A loud mouth cunt and a retard? These rejects might be believable as the cock-of-the-walk in a trailer court, but in the world of high-stakes assassination, I’m not buying it. In fact, I have serious doubts this family could pull off so much as a parking violation without getting caught. BUT, they blow a lot of shit up and the trashiest one shows her bell-A butt-un, WHOO HOO!!!
The Assassins: Martha Higareda, Vinnie Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Shitty Movie
I feel bad for all three of these actors. Vinnie Jones’s collective time spent on set must have been just shy of a weekend for all the on-screen time he’s featured in. The woman is present solely for her willingness to parade around in lingerie. And Flanagan is fuckin’ wasted as his character spends 90% of the film disguised as someone else. But still, these few hold all the BA cards. Martinez is easily the best developed and most interesting female of either of the films (which I know, is still not saying much). And as for Jones and Flanagan’s characters, they have great killer traits and vicious, violent backgrounds, but the problem is, only one of them ever gets used in the field, and it’s the same angle they used in the first film. And this idea of character style over character substance seems to be the recurring theme, as almost every single opportunity the set-up of this film had to be a slice of BadAss entertainment, was pissed away in favor of over complication and stylization.
[THE BODY COUNT: 44]
Oddly enough, that Arab up above lives. Well, so far as we know. Everyone else, not so much. Of the named characters about 4 of them make it to the credits, the rest end up slaughtered through various means, and along with the Michael Parks, make the film quite watchable. Not good, but watchable. Here’s a quick tally for ya:
– Martinez kills a priest with a poisonous kiss
– AK kills man with an AK
– Lester shoots 2 soldiers
– AK shoots 1 soldier
– Soot kills a man by slitting his throat
– Tremors kill 3 carnies
– Soot shoots Dumare
– Martinez poisons a rapist
– Lester kills 2 agents with a combat bow and another with a sniper rifle
– Lester fires 2 bomb strapped midgets into a bar
– Soot shoots a Fed
– Vinnie shoots 2 Feds
– Martinez kills 2 Feds, 1 with a gun 1 with a throwing star
– Lester shoots a Fed
– Baby gattling-guns 3 Feds
– Fritz shoots a Fed
– A Fed shoots Martinez
– McTeague sticky grenades Baby
– Fritz shoots McTeague
– Soot shoots Agent Abrego and Another Fed
– Lester rocket launches 3 feds
– AK shoots Agent Nicholas
– Agent Baker shoots AK
– Flashback: Martinez poisons a Russian – Soot shoots 2 Iraqis
– Walter blows up a Fed and Fritz
– Agent Baker shoots Walter
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
AK Is Not A-OK
Do I really need to explain why I was glad that the whitetrash skank finally died? She was loud, Southern, stupid, obnoxious and loud. And with those powers combined, became a source of unending suck. I think, since he had worked with her before, the director thought this would be a cute and fun role for his cute and fun little friend. And like so many other things, P.J. was wrong. But, at least he had the good sense to send her off fast, bloody and in the middle of one of her insufferable squawking redneck rants.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Well, the Feds clearly all want to slide their government issued barrettas into one-another’s holsters. This is shown by their arm-nudging, douchie “humorous” banter and almost non-stop ass-grabbery. Especially Agent Redstone.
His one defining character trait is that he becomes enraged when the subject of a past operation involving a transvestite is brought up. He is so defensive and touchy about it, that he couldn’t be anything less than a self-hating closet case. For further proof, one only needs to look at his unabashed excitement toward dirty magazines and his over-acting disgust when the mock question as to whether or not the girl he’s fawning over is a post-op man. And while the intention of his character was clearly for comedy’s sake, he inadvertently becomes the sole interesting character on the FBI side of the film just by being different.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
While on the surface it seems like the women of SA2:AB seem like strong, independent forces to be reckoned with, I saw the deep seated misogyny hidden beneath. Both of them use their bodies and sex to get the kill, which is fine (you gotta use what tools you have), BUT the manner in which it is handled is slightly less than tasteful. Which, don’t get me wrong, is just the way I like it, but it doesn’t lend the ladies too much credibility to their “craft”. It comes off making them seem silly and only capable of scoring very naive hits.
Tremor is clearly a whore, bucking and screaming like a wild animal in heat before her ludicrous kills. And Martinez spends nearly the entire film strutting around in leather underwear, easily duping every sad-sack she happens to come across. And I take a mild offense to this. Are men really so stupid and easily lead to not question a beautiful stranger (clearly out of their league), whom upon approach strips before even so much as an introduction? Maybe before AIDS, but I’d like to think most men would AT LEAST have some small reservations to the situation. They say “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” but this does not apply when the gift could contain dick-rot and/or death. Oh, and both of these ladies die in manners un-befitting their supposed “talents” as leading hit-women.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
EP-M: Clown Go Boom
Now while most would see this as a positive peak of the film’s entertainment, I don’t. It could have been, ‘cuz fuck knows I hate clowns. But, like everything else, they messed it all up. So, how does one fuck up firing a midget clown strapped with explosives out of a cannon into a bar? By knowing that it’s the best idea they had. As not only is the Tremors’s reason for obtaining the human-ammo and firing device explained away by being a “good idea for a façade” (which still makes no sense), but the filmmakers made a point to keep reminding us of just how “clever” the idea was. Not only do they do it twice and later they show one of the Feds picking up a blood-filled Binky nose, they STILL couldn’t resist mentioning it one more time in the post-film text wrap-up. So the whole thing just ended up seeming force-fed and like a pathetic plea for acceptance.
Fritz: U’all be careful—them clown fuckars can be dangerous. The little ones can be lethal. I always make it a point to not cross swords with carnies and harlots… Satan’s little secret agents—collectin’ souls on the side. I saw one of them little bastards levitate one time, took the heart out of a great dane! ~ArrArrArrArr~ Ate it whole, just like dat! Sent me runnin’ for my bible.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Michael Parks is too good for this schlock.
[THE CHECKLIST: 15 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball (2010) © Universal Studios Home Entertainment