– Summary –
Director : PJ Pesce
Year Of Release : 2010
Principal Cast : Tom Berenger, Clayne Crawford, Tommy Flanagan, Ernie Hudson, Autumn Reeser, Vinnie Jones, Christopher Michael, Michael Parks.
Synopsis: A bounty is placed on the head of desk-bound FBI agent Walter Weeds, so he’s taken to a secure underground bunker by the FBI, where another bunch of assassins attempts to kill him and collect the reward.
What we think : Energetic and violent sequel to Joe Carnahan’s original, is even less comprehensible if that’s possible, and features exploding circus clowns. How can you go wrong? Easy, apparently, as this film goes to prove.
If the original Smokin’ Aces was an experience in explosive style, then its sequel, subtitled with the peculiar moniker of Assassins Ball, is even more about the visuals than the story. Joe Carnahan, director of the original, slides over into the producers chair this time round, leaving the carnage to be helmed by PJ Pesce, a man best known for directing plenty of sequels to good or average films (Sniper 3, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn 3, The Lost Boys 2, and now this entity). Carnahan’s hands are all over this film, however, with much of the same hyperkinetic chaos we saw last time out once more given free reign against a story that isn’t anywhere near as smart as it pretends to be. Some of the films set-pieces are okay, in particular a massive shootout at a jazz club, but they’re connected by a pretty weak set of character in a story way too obvious for my liking. Maybe it’s the film critic cynic in me, but I found I’d spotted the films’ twist about twenty minutes into it all. You may or may not agree, but to try making a film like this one with any semblance of subtle twists is like trying to make Paris Hilton look like something other than a complete slut. Pointless.
Okay, the plot goes something like this: a desk jockey for the FBI finds himself on the receiving end of a hit – at least, the promise of one. His fellow FBI agents, desperate to have him not be killed, bunker down in an old underground… well, bunker, hidden under the streets of a small town and fronted by a jazz club. Of course, the assassins enlisted by the man responsible for the hit all descend upon said bar, beset with weaponry of every kind with one thing in mind: kill the target and collect the bounty. Hitherto, logic and common sense evaporate in a bloody shootout and cannonball circus dwarfs. Don’t ask. While the FBI try desperately to protect the target, the assassins inevitably encounter all kinds of resistance, leaving nothing undamaged in the ensuing carnage. To say Assassin’s Ball is an astonishing cinematic feat is to say cooked kangaroo scrotum tastes like chicken. A total non-sequitur. The script defaults to teeth-clenching preposterousness and some truly dreadful acting by Autumn Reeser as a redneck assassin devoid of any human traits like empathy or guilt: you get the feeling it’s all for naught, and by the time the closing credits thankfully get to roll, you’re sure of it. Assassin’s Ball is entirely without merit of any kind, or with any sense save for one: death, destruction and what I like to term “finger rape” of an editing machine. It’s all so silly to the point where it leaves this Earthly realm, and enters a dimension where every gunshot is accompanied by a cannon-blast, every bullet hit tears heads from shoulders and obliterates walls, chairs and all manner of furniture, and characters behave in ways that change from scene to scene in terms of their natural arc. For those who enjoyed the original Smokin’, this is like going from a pack a day to nothin’ at all – fraught with danger and definitely a last resort.