This movie is not worth it. So stop reading this. Now.
Multi-thread plots need to be used so each plot thread communicates constructive tension across the series of plot threads. Everything ends with Tarantino, or it should have. The danger of such communication between plot threads is that tension can be released. The frequencies of each respective thread needs to be arranged to produce standing waves of action, not cancel each other out.
Smokin’ Aces is like a house of cards that continually assembles itself; in the hope of what I am not sure, because it never actually gets anywhere. It has to continually assemble itself from the remains of the exhausted tension in each thread produced by other threads. The main culprit is dialogue. There should have been more dialogue like that of Georgia Sykes (Alicia Keys) and her partner in crime Sharice Watters (Taraji Henson) as they are in final preparations for their hit. Less dialogue that involved overacting using neck muscles, of which there is too much in the film to mention any particular examples, or weird moments of dialogue that also go on for too long (the puppet Affleck scene, wtf?). Timing: crisp, let the affective gravity slow time down, don’t slow time down to signify affective gravity. We just get fucking bored.
There were some genuinely funny or well acted, charismatic moments, that is, if you are a nerd with no real conception of sociality except from computer game wikis, porn blogs, and what you read on the back of your Cheerio packaging. These moments include the black lesbian hitwoman having the biggest gun in the movie, or the homoerotic tension amongst the neo-Nazis, or the on-screen charisma of debut rapper-turned-actor Common. Actually the scene where the illusionist and namesake of the title, Aces, is staring into the mirror is great for what is left unspoken, but then it is ruined with an example of the stupid dialogue (about loyalty). Don’t tell; show, and allow us to ride the waves of tension for ourselves as we let our bodies join with them.
For an action movie, and all the hit and miss of the flying bullets and sometimes snappy dialogue and imagery, the audience was moved around the plot like a speed addict truck driver in a geriatric’s motorised scooter earnestly moving around rehab. The complete failure of the film makers to properly modulate tension and pace is clearly demonstrated when Hollis Elmore (Martin Henderson) takes a whole bunch of Ritilin. Does he grind his teeth once? Does get all twitchy? Has he ever taken massive doses of that sort of drug? Nothing happens. Worse, the plot should accelerate through chemical induction in some way or another, but all we get is some weird scene on a parking roof top that goes on far too long.
Fuck, what a waste of time.