Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball (2010)

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Tagline:

May the best hit man survive!

Back of DVD:

The director of Smokin' Aces and Narc brings you back into the adrenaline-pumping world of blood, bullets and bad-asses. Packed with insane mercenaries, sexy assassins and more of the fan-favourite Tremor family. This all-new explosive film brings together a cast of grisly veterans (Tom Berenger and Vinnie Jones) and sizzling newcomers to tell the story of a low-level FBI agent with a high-price on his head.

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Movie Review:

I had somehow missed out on seeing Smokin' Aces when it came out in 2006. Looking back I don't think I saw much at the cinema that year. But I finally caught up with the movie not so long ago when I found the Bluray cheap and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a smart action movie with big guns, likeable and funny characters and a clever twist. It had a little of the vibe that made Snatch so fantastic. And any movie where Ben Affleck is billed as the leading role and dies in the first act is good by me. Sorry if I spoiled it for anyone.

Early this year the same director came out with a direct-to-DVD sequel (though I think it's actually a prequel) starring only a couple of the original cast. As usual with this sort of thing, the budget is slashed and the A-grade stars not affordable, but that's cool in the DTV world because we get the likes of Vinnie Jones and Tom Berenger, both classic action stars in their own realms. The other good thing with DTV sequels is they rely less on creating a new and original story and concentrate more on the bodycount. Just rehash the same old shit but add more explosions. Win!

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The general plot is quite simple. Walter Weed (Tom Berenger) is just an FBI clerk but for some reason there is a hit out on him tomorrow morning at 3am. The word has spread and it is expected that the best assassins will be on their way to collect their bounty. Agent Baker (Clayne Crawford) is in charge of keeping Walter secure until the deadline passes and a plan is put into action to hide him in a secure bunker underground in an undisclosed location. With the amount of men involved in this operation and the sheer amount of concrete between Walter and the outside world, how could anyone possibly get to him by the 3am deadline?

Tom Berenger is fantastic as Walter Weed, I mean really really good. He plays the role of a disillusioned FBI desk jockey superbly and has some great emotional scenes with his protecting agents. I only really know him from Sniper (and the two sequels which I have not yet watched - expect reviews soon) and he seems to keep a low profile doing TV movies and the like and then once every so often come out with a Training Day, or most recently Inception. A class actor all the way.

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Vinnie Jones is, well, Vinnie Jones. And that's awesome. Any movie he is in instantly becomes worthy of a watch, even the delirium of Japanese comedy Survive Style 5 (where he plays.. a hitman). The guy plays the same hitman character in every single move you see; or at least if not a hitman, a real hard arse. His role is not the largest in this, even though he is the main feature of the cover, but at least they don't do an Affleck to him and finish him off in the first act. His best scene is his opener, where he is hammering large nails into a guys head, systematically shutting down that portion of his brain. Vinnie gives it his usual madcap hitman performance - he must really love these roles!

We don't quite get the same array of awesome characters that we do in the first movie, particularly with the Tremor family. It is good to see them back (at least their relatives) but the original Neo-nazi family, lead by the awesome Kevin Durand, is far superior to their hillbilly cousins presented here (though Maury Sterling does reprise his role as Lester). That's the real problem with this sequel. Outside Tom Berenger, you don't feel anything for any of the characters. In the first you sympathised with hitgirls Georgia and Shatrice, you hated the double-crossing Buddy Israel and you felt something for Ray Liotta when he snuffed it (sorry again). In Smokin' Aces 2 there isn't any real bond with the characters. The only minor relationship that is explored (briefly) is that of Vinnnie and hitgirl Ariella Martinez, a gorgeous and dangerous girl who uses her skills of seduction to get close to an enemy and kiss them with a poison lip mask. Though I'm not really sure how that would have help her get close to a guy held in a bunker.

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BUT you aren't here for all that pussy-whipping relationship malarky, this is DTV action and you want GUNS GUNS GUNS. Well there is plenty of that here; the bar shootout being the major pinnacle of the action in this movie, and the most weaponry being provided by the hillbilly Tremor family. Baby Boy Tremor is the funniest of the family, with his fascination of circus midgets ending in the firing out of a canon of not one but two midgets, wired with explosives, into the wall of the bar. He also completely decimates the bar with his minigun, not leaving much for the others to do! Daddy Tremor gets in a sweet headshot with a high calibre rifle complete with brain sliding down the side of the wall. Sure it's more obviously CGI than the first movie, and the gun is not as awesome as the ridiculous 50 cal. used in the first movie, but it's still effective.

The most successful killer of the bunch has to be Lazlo Soot, once again played by Tommy Flanagan, who with his face-masks manages to convince everyone that he is an FBI agent and literally walk in the door of the bunker.

This is great fun and definitely on the higher end of DTV action, alongside similar movie The Tournament. If you've seen the first Smokin' Aces through to its conclusion then you have an idea how this movie will be resolved. Fans of the first movie who appreciate DTV films will be all over this. Fans of the first movie that don't know any Steven Seagal flicks post-Under Siege 2.. well, they probably won't.

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The Video:

A glorious 1080p video presentation with a thumping DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Perfect presentation for a movie like this; too good in fact, with the CGI explosions looking more obvious in HD! Runtime 88 minutes.

NOTE: I can't screenshot Blurays so I have included an assortment of images I found on Google.

Sourced From:

JB HiFi for $13.

Trailer:

2 comments:

  1. I've been meaning to check this one out... of course, I've kinda been meaning to check out part one too, oops. Anyway, it sounds like a good time and something I have to add to my must list, considering I saw it out a while ago, and just totally forgot it even existed.

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  2. Yeah it took until I saw them both cheap on Bluray for be to take the gamble. Wasn't sure what kind of movies they were but with an R rating for Strong violence I figured - what the hell.

    My next two-up on a similar theme will be Boondock Saints and it's 2010 sequel Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day, which I hope to also review.

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