When back in 2003 Joe Carnahan’s Narc came out it was garning praise everywhere as a gritty police drama, with comparisons being made to classics like The French Connection. After that he went quiet for a bit, before it was announced he was going to be directing Mission Impossible III, unfortunately due to ‘creative differences’ he left the film, bad for them good for us, as now we have Smokin’ Aces.

   This action drama, sees the FBI along with various hitmen and women all trying to get there hands on Buddy ‘Aces’ Israel. Buddy is a vegas magician who has got himself involved with the Mob and so has done a deal with the feds to snitch. Obviously the mob aren’t happy and so a million dollar fee has been put out on his head and heart!!

   The film has a fantastic ensemble cast, with Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia even a small role from Lost’s own Matthew Fox. Amongst this lineup there are a couple of standout performances. Firstly singer Alicia Keys in her first role, shows her talents don’t just lie in music, as half of an all girl squad she’s surprisingly good. As the target Buddy, Jeremy Piven comes out of the best mate film roles, to show why he has been getting recognition for his role in TV series Entourage, he plays Israel with the right mix of cockiness but also realisation of whats coming his way.  I think the real surprise is Ryan Reynolds, like most people he first came to note as the infamous Van Wilder, and he has pretty much played the same character in various films including Blade Trinity. I have enjoyed his comic performances but in this he shows that he can really handle the serious roles and does so excellently. Hopefully this could be the first of many such roles.

  Overall this is pretty bloody film which doesn’t hold off at all, but it’s also cleverly written and energetically paced not letting off as the various characters all head for the inevitable showdown. It is quite Trantino-esque but not in plagarising way, with Carnahan bringing his own style. With some great tunes and some of the coolest closing credits I’ve seen in a while, this is a film worth checking out. Rating 7/10