action, comedy, fantasy, movie, movie review, science fiction

October 16th, 2018 Movie – Ghostbusters (2016) (a.k.a. Ghostbusters: Answer The Call)

ghostbusters 2016

Oh, the shitstorm that was stirred up on the internet when this movie was announced. Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedies to come out of the 80’s and while the sequel didn’t quite catch the same magic, it was still a good movie. A third movie had been talked about and rumored for years during the 90’s but nothing ever came of it. Then, over 20 years after the Ghostbuster were seen on the big screen, there was finally some serious talk about a third movie being made. However, when it was announced that it was going to be a reboot instead of a sequel and that it would star a female cast of Ghostbusters, the internet was lit up with people calling out in protest over the move, which led to many calling out the protests over their misogynistic tones. In any case, I wound up not seeing Ghostbusters (2016) in theaters but I did rent it off redbox as soon as it became available. I had considered buying it but that point became moot because it was one of the free gifts in my ultraviolet account so let’s see what I thought about this reboot.

The plot: As a tour group is going through the Aldridge Mansion in New York City, the tour guide is leading a group through the mansion when a candlestick suddenly falls by the basement door where Gertrude Aldridge had been locked away. That night, as the tour guide is closing up, he reveals that the candlestick was a prop used to scare the tourists. Suddenly, the basement door knob starts turning and the tour guide hears the sound of a woman screaming and banging on the door. The tour guide is then telekinetically attacked and as he tries to escape, he ends up running down into the basement, which is now unlocked. Realizing where he is, the tour guide tries to escape as green slime begins bubbling up from some cracks in the ground and a strange smoke heads towards him. The next day, Erin Gilbert is preparing to lecture at Columbia University when she is approached by Ed Mulgrave Jr, the owner of the Aldridge Mansion, who is holding a copy of the book she wrote years ago about the paranormal. Wrin tries to deny it but reluctantly admits it is her and asks what he wants. He tells her his belief that the mansion is haunted and asks that she check it out but she refuses, then asks how he got a copy of the book as she thought she had destroyed the only two copies. When Ed tells her that it was on Amazon, Erin goes to check for herself, keeping the results hidden from Dean Filmore when he enters her office to talk about her upcoming tenure hearing. Erin goes to see Abby Yates, her former partner that she had co-written to book with and Abby is unapologetic about putting the book for sale. Erin is introduced to Jillian Holtzmann, Abby’s new partner, and the two proceed to tease Erin about not believing in her old research. When Erin tells them why she is there, Abby and Holtzmann quickly grab some equipment and leave their lab, with Abby promising to take the book down until Erin gets tenure if she introduces them to Mulgrave. When they arrive at the mansion, they talk to Mulgrave and the tour guide across the street, then Abby and Holtzmann head inside, with Erin following after them. As they explore the mansion, Erin steps in some green goo and thinks that Abby and Holtzmann are pulling a prank on her by opening the basement door but Abby and Holtzmann swear they didn’t open the door. Suddenly, the ghost of Gertrude Aldridge exits the basement and Erin attempts to talk to it before the ghost spits ectoplasm on her, then flies off out of the mansion. Erin, Abby, and Holtzmann are excited about what happened but when Abby posts the video of the encounter online, Erin’s superiors see it and Filmore fires her. Erin goes to Abby and Holtzmann’s lab and complain to them about their video getting her fired. Abby says that they can now study ghosts full time, showing her people commenting about on their video of other hauntings, but when they go to ask for more money from the Dean of the college they teach at, he fires both Abby and Holtzmann. Meanwhile, subway ticket booth operator Patty Tolan is working her shift when a man approaches her and speaks with her briefly before wandering onto the tracks. As she goes to search for him, she sees a strange device on a electrical panel, which explodes, just before a ghost appears and frightens Patty away. The man, Rowan North, returns to his job at a hotel, discussing the sites where he has planted devices and says he has more to plant to break down the barrier. Erin, Abby, and Holtzmann go looking for a place to work out of and eventually find a place over a Chinese restaurant. As they get set up, Kevin Beckman shows up to apply for their receptionist job and Erin is attracted to him but Kevin seems to be somewhat of an idiot. As they discuss hiring him, Patty shows up at their office to tell them about the ghost she saw. The three head down to the subway station, which Patty explains was underneath the old prison where they electrocuted inmates. As they head down the tracks, they find the debris from the device that Rowan had planted just before the ghost appears again. Erin uses Holtzmann’s device to try and capture it and manages to snare it but when a train is approaching, they are forced to run while the ghost gets stuck on the incoming train. Elsewhere, Rowan has some guests complain about the ectoplasm that is dripping along the walls from the hotel, with one guest having a ghost possessing a rash on her back. Later, Rowan heads out to set the next bomb to destroy to barrier, going to a rock show where Ozzy Osbourne is performing.The girls return to their office to examine the pieces of the device they collected when they notice that Patty had followed them and wants to join them. When she tells them she can get them a car if they let her join, the girls agree but are not excited when she returns with a hearse. After Abby tests out Holtzmann’s portable version of her weapon, they see a news story talking about them, where famed paranormal debunker Martin Heiss calls the video of the ghost they encountered a fake. Erin says that she doesn’t care what anyone else thinks because what they are doing matters, just as Kevin takes a call about a ghost at the theater. As they go to leave, Erin sees her boyfriend Phil outside and goes to speak with him but ends up leaving with the others when Holtzmann pulls up in the now customized hearse. When they get to the theater, the owner explains what happened and takes them to the lower level to try and find the ghost. The girls separate and Abby discovers the device Rowan left while Patty encounters the ghost, which has possessed a mannequin. Patty leads the possessed mannequin back to the others, where they use their proton packs to destory the mannequin but the ghost escapes and heads upstairs towards the concert. The girls chase after him and continue trying to catch the ghost, with the crowd thinking it is part of the show, but they eventually catch it. As they leave the theater to a crowd chanting Ghostbusters, Rowan is watching the news report on them and tells them to enjoy their victory while they can. Back at their lab, the girls are celebrating their successful capture of a ghost when Martin Heiss shows up and questions whether they really caught a ghost or not. Despite Abby trying to stop her, Erin gets fed up with his skepticism and releases the ghost, which grabs Martin and throws him out the window while it flies off. As the police question the Ghostbusters, Agents Hawkins and Rourke from Homeland Security show up to escort the Ghostbusters to the Mayor’s office. Once there, Mayor Bradley and his secretary explain that they know the Ghostbusters aren’t frauds and are aware of the ghosts in the city but want the Ghostbusters to stay out of it while Homeland does their job. As the news labels them frauds, Abby tells them they can’t let what others think stop them, listing other locations where ghosts have been spotted. Erin gets an idea and plots the locations on a map, discovering that the events are occurring on ley lines. As Abby goes to call Homeland about their theory, Erin discovers the lines intersect at the Mercado hotel and Patty tells them the history of that area, and the deaths that have occurred there. When she looks at the hotels website, she recognizes Rowan as the man that spoke to her at the subway and the Ghostbusters head out to investigate. When they get to the hotel, they head to the basement and find Rowan preparing to activate a giant device to destroy the barrier. Abby tries to talk Rowan out of his plan but he goes to activate the device, killing himself in the process. Holtzmann manages to shut off the device and discovers that Rowan had been reading Abby and Erin’s book but as Jennifer thanks them for saving the city, she tells them that Homeland will “fake arrest” them while she speaks with the press and says it was just a sad stunt by the Ghostbusters. Erin gets fed up with everyone calling them frauds and after attacking a man calling them fakes, she tells the others that she needs a break. Heading home, she starts looking through Rowan’s copy of their book when she sees the notes he wrote in it and his plan to kill himself in order to become a ghost and lead the army of ghost to purge the world of humanity. Erin tries to call the others and warn them about Rowan but when she sees a news report that Mayor Bradley is having a meeting with world leaders, she heads there to warn him but is thrown out of the restaurant. Meanwhile, Rowan possesses Abby, who begins destroying the Ghostbuster’s equipment. When Patty and Holtzmann try to stop her, they manage to free Abby from Rowan but he possesses Kevin, who heads back to the hotel and activates the portal. As ghosts swarm the city, Abby, Holtzmann, and Patty head out to the hotel to shut down the portal but the Ecto-1 ends up being stolen by Slimer. The three continue on foot but are attacked by a series of ghost balloons, ending up being trapped underneath a balloon of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man but Erin saves them. At the hotel, the possessed Kevin takes control of Agent Hawkins, Rourke, and police and national guard attempting to stop him, forcing them to dance for his amusement before freezing them in place. When the Ghostbusters show up, he summons some ghosts to fight them but they are able to defeat the ghosts and make their way into the hotel. Rowan taunts them for a bit, eventually leaving Kevin, and transforms into the ghost from their logo, then growing super-sized and begins attacking the city. Realizing he is too strong to attack, the Ghostbusters decide to try and fire into the portal and cross the streams in an attempt to close it but the proton packs aren’t powerful enough. Seeing Slimer driving the Ecto-1 towards them, Patty suggest using the equipment on top of the car, which is essentially a nuclear reactor, and they fire their proton packs at the car, steering it into the portal while shooting the equipment and causing it to explode. The explosion causes the portal’s energy to reverse and the ghosts are sucked back into it. Rowan is able to hold on but the Ghostbusters shoot him and he falls into the portal but grabs Abby and drags her in as he falls. With the portal closing, Erin ties herself off with the cable from a winch and jumps in to rescue Abby, while Patty and Holtzmann pull them both back before the portal closes. As people try to explain what happened and if the Ghostbusters had anything to save them, Jennifer approaches the Ghostbusters and says that while they will continue to disavow that what they do is real, Mayor Bradley wants to fully fund the Ghostbusters so they can be better prepared if something like this happens again. Erin has the Mayor help them buy an old firehouse to use for their new base and as they get themselves set up, Leslie tells them to come out to the roof, where they see various skyscrapers in the city lit up to say that they love the Ghostbusters. Later, as they are relaxing in Holtzmann’s lab, Patty is listening to an audio tape of what was recorded during the event and asks them who Zuul is.

Despite the initial backlash before the movie came out, Ghostbusters (2016) met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Ghostbusters does an impressive job of standing on its own as a freewheeling, marvelously cast supernatural comedy — even if it can’t help but pale somewhat in comparison with the classic original.” The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $229.1 million off of a $144 million budget (but is considered a bomb due to the high marketing and production costs) and while there was some initial talk of a sequel, the disappointing box office has put the idea on hold. However, IDW Publishing announced a 6 part mini-series that would team up the original Ghostbusters with the 2016 crew, with a second series continuing the adventures of the 2016 Ghostbusters.

Ok, the original movie is one that will never be topped, but this wasn’t as bad as many people thought it was going to be. The acting was good, with the 4 main women doing great jobs in their roles but Leslie Jones (Patty) and Kate McKinnon (Holtzmann) really stole the show with their performances. The writing was ok but I feel like this movie focused too much on the comedy aspects and not enough on the story itself. I think a part of that is due to the writing, as Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the original movie with Dan Aykroyd, was a genius when it came to writing comedy movies and his writing style made his movies memorable, if not outright iconic. One thing I did like was all the nods to the original movies, with 5 of the original actors making cameos in the movie, as well as showing the firehouse and several references to lines or scenes from the original movie. The special effects in the movie were pretty good and I liked how they decided to get creative in the uses of the proton pack, with them using them almost like whips and flinging the ghosts into other ghosts was pretty neat. So it is not as good as the original movie, and I honestly don’t think they were trying to out do it, but it is a fun movie to watch and a pretty decent entry into the franchise.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

April 11th, 2018 Movie – The Untouchables

the untouchables

You know, I just now realized that I had some of my movies completely out of order. I’m pretty sure it happened last year when I bout all of those box sets and was trying to get everything entered into my list, and just wasn’t paying that much attentions as I got further into the alphabet. Well, I shall try to do a better job of that in the future so let’s move on to today’s movie. Now I have seen portions of this movie for years on television but I think the first time I ever saw this in it’s entirety was when I actually bought the DVD for myself. I mean, this is one of those movies that tends to wind up on those “must watch” lists so I figured I might as well get it so I could watch the whole thing in one go. Was this an good choice of an impulse buy? Only one way to find out so let’s see how much I enjoy today’s movie, The Untouchables.

The plot: During the Prohibition era in Chicago, Al Capone has risen to power as the top gang lord controlling the illegal alcohol in the city. After a bombing at a local shop kills a 10 year old girl, Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness is sent to Chicago to work with the police in bringing Capone down. After giving a brief press conference, Ness speaks to the police officers assigned to the task force and tells them he knows some of them have probably had a drink before, but from now on, they have to stop as the best way to enforce the law is to show that they are following the law themselves. That night, Ness stakes out a suspected liquor storage facility and is forced to chase away a newspaper reporter who was staking out the scene as well. After spotting activity at the warehouse, Ness leads a raid inside, capturing the workers and inviting the photographer to take a picture of him exposing the illegal liquor, only to find the crates filled with umbrellas. Upset at seeing the newspapers talking about the failed bust, Ness encounters beat cop Jimmy Malone, who offers him some advise on handling Chicago. After receiving a visit from the little girl’s mother, Ness goes to see Malone and tries to recruit him to join his team but Malone refuses. Returning to the police station, Ness is greeted by Oscar Wallace, a member of the FBI’s accounting division, who says they might be able to build a case against Capone for tax evasion. Ness is frustrated at that but sees Malone standing outside his office and goes to talk to him. Malone takes him out of the station, saying the walls have ears, and helps Ness realize that the reason his raid failed was because the police tipped off Capone. Malone takes Ness to the police academy, where they recruit George Stone (whose real name is Giuseppe Petri) to join their team. After heading back to the station, Malone grabs some shotguns from the weapons closet and hands them to Ness, Stone, and Wallace, then leads them to one of Capone’s liquor caches. The men successfully pull off the raid on the surprised workers and the press starts giving them some positive publicity, calling them the Untouchables. That night, Capone is hosting a dinner for his men and kills the man in charge of the raided cache as a warning to the others. The next day, Ness is visited by an associate of Capone, who offers Ness a bribe to look the other way regarding Capone’s business, but Ness refuses and throws the man out of his office. As Ness heads home that night, Capone’s hitman, Frank Nitti, speaks to him from his car, making subtle threats to Ness’ family before driving off. Ness rushes into his house and after making sure that his wife and daughter are safe, he contacts Malone. Wallace and a police officer, who happens to be Malone’s cousin, show up and the officer takes Ness’ family to a safe house for safety. After they drive off, Malone and Stone show up and Malone tells Ness that they know when Capone is expecting a delivery of liquor across the Canadian border and they quickly head off to stop it. Meeting up with a division of Canadian Mounties, Ness works out a plan and they wait to ambush the delivery. When the delivery occurs, the Mounties jump the gun and Ness and his team are forced to rush out to carry out their part of the ambush. A shoot out occurs and Stone is wounded but they manage to kill several of Capone’s men and capture George, one of Capone’s bookkeepers. As Wallace looks at the books that George was carrying, he realizes that if they can prove that Capone is receiving payments, that will seal their case against him for tax evasion. George refuses to say anything but when Malone grabs the body of a dead man and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t talk, not revealing to George that the man is already dead, Malone shoots him and George immediately says he will confess. After hearing that the liquor shipment was seized and that George has been captured, Capone orders his men to kill Ness and his family in retaliation. The next day, the district attorney announces that they are filling charges against Capone for tax evasion and Wallace is preparing to escort George to a safe house so he can testify in court. As they take the elevator down to the street, they are shot by Nitti, who was disguised as a police officer. Hearing the shots, Ness and Malone go to check on Wallace and find the police escorts dead as well as George and Wallace, with the word “Touchable” written in blood on the elevator wall. Ness is enraged and heads out to confront Capone and when Capone taunts him, he starts to pull out a gun to shoot him but Malone stops him and tells him. When the D.A. talks about not pressing the case, Ness starts to give up hope on bringing down Capone but Malone tells him to stall the D.A., saying he might have a way to get the information they need. Malone goes to see Police Chief Mike Dorsett, knowing that he was the one that set up Wallace and George, and Mike tells him he was doing him a favor by letting them be killed instead of all of them like Capone wanted. The two men fight and Malone eventually learns when Walter Payne, Capone’s head bookkeeper is set to be moved out of the city. Malone calls Stone and tells him to let Ness know he found the bookkeeper and to meet at his apartment. As he waits for Ness and Stone, Malone is confronted by one of Capone’s men but as he chases the man out of his apartment, he is shot by Nitti, who was waiting in ambush. When Ness and Stone arrive, they find Malone mortally wounded but he is able to relay the information that Payne will be arriving at Union Station at midnight. Ness and Stone head there and start looking around for any sign of Payne, during which time, NEss decides to help a woman carry her baby carriage up the stairs when he notices several of Capone’s gangsters exiting the train. When Ness realizes he has been made, he starts shooting the gangsters, with Stone joining in, then rushes to keep the carriage from falling down the stairs and killing the baby. Stone manages to stop the carriage as the last gangster threatens to kill Payne but Stone is able to shoot him, saving Payne’s life. The trial commences and as Payne gives his testimony, Capone doesn’t look worried and the D.A. speaks with Ness and Stone about it. When he notices Nitti speaking with Capone then leave the courtroom, Ness follows him and has the guard search him. He finds a gun on him but also a note containing permission from the mayor to carry it and is forced to give it back. Grabbing a pack of matches from Nitti’s jacket to light a cigarette, Ness finds Malone’s address written on it and realizes Nitti killed Malone. Malone shoots the guard and flees up onto the rooftop, with Ness following him and eventually capturing him but when Nitti taunts him about how Malone died, Ness throws him off the roof. As Ness returns inside, Stone approaches him with a list he found inside Nitti’s jacket and reveals that it is a list of the jurors, indicating they have been bribed. Ness and Stone bring the list to the judge’s attention but he refuses to switch jurors but when Ness asks to speak with him alone, Ness tells the judge that his name is in Capone’s ledger. As the trial resumes, the judge orders the jurors to be switched and as confusion sets in at Capone’s table, his lawyer changes his plea to guilty, causing Capone to punch him as pandemonium breaks out in the courtroom. Some time later, Ness is packing up his office and says goodbye to Stone, who tries to give Ness Malone’s St. Jude medallion and callbox key but Ness tells him to keep them. As Ness leaves the station, he is approached by a reporter for a statement and is asked what he will do if Prohibition is repealed and Ness smiles and says he will have a drink, then walks off.

The Untouchables met with positive results from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Slick on the surface but loaded with artful touches, Brian DePalma’s classical gangster thriller is a sharp look at period Chicago crime, featuring excellent performances from a top-notch cast.” Unlike the movie, in real life Al Capone had a non-violence order issued to his men in regards to the Untouchables, as he knew killing a Prohibition Agent would bring more trouble than he wanted to deal with. The movie was a box office success, earning $106.2 million off of a $25 million budget and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, with Sean Connery winning the award for Best Supporting Actor.

I do think this movie got a little bit over hyped but it is a good movie none the less. The acting was good, with Kevin Costner doing an ok job as Ness but Robert De Niro and Sean Connery doing great jobs in their roles of Capone and Malone respectively. The story was good, with some basis in reality embellished to make it more entertaining to the audience. The special effects with the gun battles were about what you would expect for the time. My biggest problem with this movie is honestly some of the camera work involved. I thought the repeated use of different camera angles to replay the same scene over and over in an attempt to accent the impact or action was a little much. However, the true point of ridiculousness on this matter was when Nitti was thrown from the roof, as the camera changes to a close up of his face screaming as he falls to the ground. That was some of the most ridiculous blue screening I have seen coming from a big budget movie in a long, long time. So, is this a good movie? Yes. Is this a must see movie? That one is a matter of a personal opinion but personally, I wouldn’t call it a must see unless you enjoy movies based on real events.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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