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Film: Smokin' Aces
"When do we get concerned?"

Richard Messner: You said someone came up to you as an FBI agent?
Pimply Casino Employee: Yeah—
Richard Messner: And then you saw him get on the elevator wearing a security guard outfit?
Pimply Casino Employee: (stammering) Yeah?
Richard Messner: And that didn't seem odd to you?

A 2007 film, directed and written by Joe Carnahan, about the Stage Magician, Casanova Wannabe, and newly turned mob informant Buddy Israel — a washed-up, bitter, narcissistic, alcoholic drug abuser — who gets a million-dollar bounty on his head courtesy of mob lord Primo Sperazza. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues!

A prequel was released in 2010. This time, the target is Walter Weed, a lowly desk jockey at the FBI on the verge of retirement, who is informed by his bewildered superiors that a massive price has been placed on his head, on condition that he is killed at precisely 3:00AM on April 19th, the very day he retires. He is given a team of Federal Agents as bodyguards and taken to an impenetrable underground fortress disguised as a bar, while all manner of ruthless killers converge on his location. Once again, there is a twist at the end that changes the nature of the story.

Frequently compared to Shoot 'em Up, a similarly self-indulgent action movie released around the same time.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Pasquale Acosta doesn't just kill you, he comforts you and waxes philosophy as you die.
  • Anyone Can Die: Only five characters live to the end.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "My boy Dale is at the Reno Correctional Facility. He's got some clarity issues. Did some home invasion, sodomy-torture type stuff; wrote a lot of bad checks."
  • Axe Crazy: The Tremor Brothers, who use WWII weaponry, chainsaws, flamethrowers, and Rare Guns. Often prone to going Medieval on people (at the cost of a well planned hit - it's explained early in the film they were supposed to kill one guy. They wind up taking him out... and the rest of the club goers of the club he was in.)
    • In Smokin Aces 2, the Tremor family resorts to shooting exploding clowns out of a carnival cannon.
  • Becoming the Mask: An interesting inversion of this: after FBI Agent Freeman Heller goes undercover as Mafia Hitman Primo Sparazza, the higher-ups at the FBI became wrongfully convinced that he had become the mask, and tried to have him murdered. Heller survived the assassination, and to retaliate against the Bureau that betrayed him, really did become the mask, eventually becoming the head Mafia Don.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Agent Messner.
  • BFG: Sharice's "big mama" .50 caliber sniper rifle gets Alpha (Fe)male honors here, but the Tremors' armory makes up in quantity what it lacks in quality.
    • Sir Ivy, Buddy's lieutenant, carries a S&W Model 500, about as big a revolver as he could possibly find.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Buddy Israel when hanging out with the Mafia. Unfortunately for him, Reality Ensues as his incompetence is what gets him into trouble.
  • Billing Displacement: Ben Affleck gets top billing. His job is to act as Mr. Exposition and then get killed by the Tremor Brothers a quarter of the way into the movie.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Pasquale's palm dagger Weapon of Choice.
  • Blast Out: Several times, most notably the Tremors coming out of the elevator.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Darwin Tremor's text tattoo is an opening line from 'Mein Kampf'. It is translated very poorly however (possibly by an automated translator) and 'Braunau-am-Inn' (Hitler's birthplace) is rendered as 'Braunau-auf-der Gasthaus' ('Gasthaus' is German for 'inn'). May be justified though, because Darwin might have done the translation himself.
  • Blown Across the Room: Which is justified, for once. Unarmored FBI agents, versus a .50 caliber anti-materiel rifle. The effects are obvious.
    • Not really justified. Even a .50 BMG round will not cause someone to fly through the air; instead, the extremely powerful armor-piercing rounds simply go right through human bodies and keep going, leaving very large holes in their wake. It's physically impossible for a bullet to make someone fly.
  • Boring, but Practical: Sir Ivy manages to kill the Tremor Brothers - wielding chainsaws, flamethrowers, and WWII sub-machine guns - with a guard's boring Beretta and a casual SigSauer.
  • Boss Subtitles: In this movie and its sequel the introduction of all principal characters includes a still frame with a name tag.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Ivy manages to fire about twelve shots from a revolver in one scene, all in quick succession. The director actually points this out quite gleefully on one commentary track.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ripley Reed, almost literal example because he has a bunny costume head in his room. He is shown as bumbling, disheveled alcoholic. Later he is also revealed to be sleeping in women lingerie.
    • Judging from the tissues and lotion on the bed, he was doing a lot more than sleeping in it.
  • Card Sharp: Buddy. Doesn't do any good for him.
    • Card-tricks kept Sir Ivy from putting an extremely large slug in him, though.
  • Carnival of Killers
  • Cerebus Ending: anyone who thought they were watching a Guy Ritchie-esque wacky-hitmen movie will be pretty surprised by the dark tone the eventual exposition scene takes.
  • Chainsaw Good: Jeeves Tremor.
  • Climbing Climax: Exaggerated; Most of the film involves the various factions racing to the penthouse.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Cradling Your Kill: Pasquale to Bill. Pasquale seems genuinely contrite about the necessity of killing Bill. Bill was just in the way, after all, and wasn't actually the target, and the two seemed to be getting along pretty well until Pasquale struck. Pasquale stayed with Bill until he died so the man wouldn't die alone.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Joe Carnahan as one of Israel's men during a flashback sequence.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Jeeves gets shot and collapses on his chainsaw.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Lazlo's specialty.
  • Death Dealer: Buddy Israel can toss a card well enough to cut and distract his bodyguard, who was about to kill him for being willing to sell him out.
  • Decoy Protagonist/Sacrificial Lamb: Ben Affleck's character who gets top billing but ultimately only gets to act as Mr. Exposition before getting shot unceremoniously. By the end of the movie it's clear that the real protagonist is Agent Messner.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Primo Sparazza a.k.a. Freeman Heller, in deep cover since the 40's.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Agent Messner crosses one at the end of the movie.
  • Downer Ending: Only Ivy, Georgia and Soot manage to get away (relatively) intact. Hollis, if he's lucky, will be a multiple amputee for the rest of his life. Acosta, judging by his arm-blade being activated on the stretcher, might live, but is likely to be incarcerated. Sharice gets caught, and presumably killed, by the FBI while watching her partner walk out on her. Messner will most likely lose his job and/or go to jail after pulling the life support plugs. Everybody else... well...
  • Dramatis Personae
  • Dual Wielding
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Several, considering the Carnival of Killers are racing each other to a hotel penthouse. First starts with Acosta and an actual FBI agent wounding each other - the FBI agent's mortally wounded, which kicks off Messner's reason for revenge later on. Then Georgia is trapped in the elevator after investigating the open elevator and signals for Sharice to open up on the incoming FBI agents...
  • Elevator Going Down: Referenced. One of the main characters who is dressed as a hooker is waiting for an elevator. When the doors open, three heavily armed half-naked skinheads are struggling into their clothes.
    Georgia: ... I'm Going down.
    Tremor: I'll Bet you are!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Acosta, who is infamous for his obscenely gruesome torture techniques, simply punctures Matthew Fox's lung so he can die painlessly in his sleep.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Sharice wears one to help sniping.
  • Face Stealer: Assassin Laszlo Soot is a master at this, murdering people close to his target and then taking their place with perfect latex masks.
  • Fingore: Hollis gets his left hand shot the hell up.
  • Gayngster: There's also a bisexual/lesbian couple of hitmen. Vague hints of Gayngst as well.
  • Genre Savvy: Once Ivy notices the smoke coming out of the elevator in front of him and Israel's security team, he starts slowly backing away. At which point the Tremor brothers burst out and massacre Israel's security team.
  • Glasgow Smile: Lazlo, as he is played by Tommy Flanagan, who sports these in Real Life.
  • Groin Attack: There is a professional torturer, briefly shown applying some sort of welding torch to a twitching, naked man hanging upside down by his feet.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Ax-Crazy, Redneck, Neo-Nazi Tremor brothers frequently use akimbo weapons. The most notable of these is when the biggest Tremor brother wields a chainsaw in one hand and a DAO-12 revolving shotgun in the other.
  • Hookers and Blow: Mobster and magician (no, seriously) Buddy "Aces" Israel, is shown ankle-deep in hookers and cocaine as he hides out in a Lake Tahoe hotel waiting for his lawyer to agree a deal with the authorities for Israel to inform on other Mafiosi in exchange for his freedom. Word of God has it that the character was inspired by Frank Sinatra's dealings with the Mafia, so it may be that Israel's lifestyle was informed by Sinatra's, which featured lots of hookers (but no blow).
  • Impersonating an Officer
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. A lot.
  • Ironic Echo: Overlaps with the Despair Event Horizon above. When Messner is grieving after agent Carruthers is killed in the hotel he takes revenge by apparently killing a FBI Deep Cover Agent.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: Played with. Acosta kills the casino's chief of security, but comforts him in his dying moments. He tells him to close his eyes so that his face won't be the last thing the guy will ever see, because (switching to Spanish) "Heaven may hold it against you".
  • Latex Perfection: Lazlo Soot heavily relies on death masks taken from victims to disguise himself.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Master of Disguise: Lazlo Soot.
  • Mole in Charge: It's revealed that the leader of the mob is really an FBI agent who was burned by his handlers and had to become a criminal for real to survive, eventually rising up the ranks to the top position.
  • Mutual Kill: FBI Agent Carruthers and hitman Pascale Acosta shoot each other to death in an elevator when the agent realizes the hitman's identity. It's hinted at the end that the hitman survived, though.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "The Plague."
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Torture-expert and Psycho for Hire Pasquale Acosta (Nestor Carbonell) utilizies a long stiletto hidden in his sleeve that is activated with a special device.
  • Numbered Sequels: With Electric Boogaloo.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Lazlo Soot's introductory scene.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Tremors taking out the hotel security at the top floor. We only get to see the aftermath with them and Ivy.
  • Once More with Clarity
  • A Party Also Known as an Orgy: Buddy Israel's penthouse apartment is obviously showing signs that the party held the night before the action of the movie starts was one of these. Naked women abound, furniture is knocked over, and Buddy gets really, really pissed off that someone somehow got "human ejaculate" if you know what I mean and I think you do on his best suede jacket.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Tremor Bros.
  • Red Baron: The Swede. Everyone mistakes him as a hitman, due to his title. He's really an accomplished heart surgeon who was to be brought in after Lazlo got Buddy comatose and ready for the heart operation.
  • Rescue Romance: One starts between Ivy and Georgia.
  • Rule of Cool: The Movie
  • Shaggy Dog Story: At the end of the movie when everything is revealed and it transpires that the hit was one big mistake resulting from a mis-overheard conversation; Lazlo Soot was the only one actually hired and that was not to kill Israel but to abduct him. The Bureau then decided it only wanted Israel for his heart to save his Mob boss father and all the dead FBI agents died because they weren't told. Messner is so upset that his partner died just to save the life of the Mob boss, who he doesn't think will give up any useful information, that he pulls the plug on both him and Israel, making everything that happened for nothing.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Sharice and her aforementioned BFG.
  • Spies in a Van: The expository opening scene features FBI agents in a van.
  • Type Casting
  • Up to Eleven: the whole movie, particularly the Tremors.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Subverted for Darwin Tremor. Darwin looks like he's about to get away, but then he runs into Hollis on the way to his car. He apologises for what happened to Hollis and his friends and gives him the keys to his car. Just as it looks like they'll part ways peacefully, Hollis decides "oh, fuck this" and shoots Darwin anyway.
  • Villains Never Lie: Georgia.
  • Weapon of Choice: palm spikes, 50-cal sniper rifles, chainsaws, playing cards...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The final scene.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lazlo Soot at the end, when he manages to get Israel all alone, the latter not even aware of the danger he's in, but puts his gun down and starts carefully setting up what appears to be a bunch of torture instruments, and a needle. Double Subverted. He was actually hired to knock him out and abduct him so doctors could steal his heart for a transplant; however, Soot still wastes too much time, and doesn't notice that Israel nearly commits suicide while he's doing so. On the other hand, however, at least it makes it easier for him to escape when the FBI comes in.

Assassins Ball provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: The prequel is even worse than the first movie. It introduces several new characters who don't appear or were even mentioned in the original film (except Lester Tremor and Lazlo Soot, obviously). Besides those two, only two characters survive the bloodbath in the film.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Finbar immediately susses that Ariella is another assassin, and that most of the people in the bar are feds.
  • Batman Gambit: Weed put the hit out on himself. He's actually a terrorist mastermind who used his mid level desk job to plot attacks and murders abroad, and used a number of lethal assassins to do it. The entire film is a ploy to get the assassins killed and fake his death to cover his own tracks.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Tremors. Emphasis on "big" since Lester is the only one who is in both films; the other three are his brother, sister and dad.
  • Expy: Finbar McTeague is essentially Pasquale Acosta from the first film; both are coldly professional torturers with nicknames who are in it for the money, both of whom disguise themselves as FBI Agents.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As its a prequel, Lester Tremor and Lazlo Soot are both guaranteed to survive.
  • Glasgow Smile: Again, Lazlo.
  • Guns Akimbo
  • Hidden Villain
  • Historical Rap Sheet: The film implies that the Corrupt Hick Neo-Nazi Tremor family was the real perpetrator of the March 11, 2004 bomb attacks in Madrid, as part of a world-wide campaign of terror orchestrated by Big Bad "Hal Leuco".
  • Kickthe Dog: The Tremors' firing exploding clowns out of a circus cannon.
  • Kiss of Death: Ariella Martinez's speciality.
  • Master of Disguise: Still Lazlo Soot.
  • Obfuscating Disability
  • Outlaw Couple: Finbar convinces Ariella to team up once he informs her the bar they are in is crawling with Federal Agents. They both die, but Ariella removes her poisoned lips to let Finbar kiss her, suggesting they had fallen for each other.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner/Bond One-Liner: Kaitlyn Tremor does both in one scene, going so far as to lampshading the latter trope.
    Dismissed!
    [shoots her sailor lover]
    Gonna make this joke about you shooting your load and then me shooting you, but it wasn't as good as "dismissed."
  • Shrouded in Myth: Hal Lueco
  • Torture Technician: Finbar McTeague, aka "The Surgeon".
  • Usual Suspects Ending: Subverted. Weed is shot by Baker in the middle of doing this.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Subverted once again. Right when it looks like Weed/Leuco is about to make a standard, clean getaway at the end of the movie, Baker comes from nowhere and shoots him through the windshield. Doubles as Crowning Moment of Funny.

SlitherFilms of 2005 - 2009 Snakes on a Plane

alternative title(s): Smokin Aces
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