The SmarK DVD Rant for Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball
I should point out that the first problem with this movie — among many that I will get to later — is that as awful as that title is, it’s not even the original one. This movie was subtitled "Blowback" almost up until it was actually scheduled for release on DVD, at which point the ridiculous "Assassin’s Ball" tag was put on it instead. Like, did the studio think "Oh man, this movie is a huge turd, but if we change the name then people might buy it"? Actually, I’ve heard dumber logic come out of Hollywood, so who knows. Also, I’ve been told that this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the original movie (which wasn’t exactly a box office smash to begin with) so it makes me further wonder why they bothered.
The setup here is pretty simple: Walter Weed (Tom Berenger in a wheelchair, looking his age) is a mid-level nothing FBI agent and paper-pusher who suddenly finds himself the target of a $3,000,000 hit by the world’s wackiest assassins. We get a whole lot of setup for these morons — like the Natural Born Killers tribute of the Tremor family, or the Saw-like gore of Vinnie Jones’ character, or the Scottish version of the Master of Disguise — but little of it ever amounts to anything more interesting than a gun battle. I like Guy Ritchie movies as much as the next dude, but I didn’t feel the need to get a major studio to bankroll a tribute to them, ya know? Even the cutesy introductory titles for each character, most of whom only get a few lines before dying anyway, seem ripped right out of Snatch or a dozen other better movies.
There’s actually the kernel of an interesting idea here, as Weed gets hidden away by the FBI in a jazz bar that houses a bunker and the parade of idiot assassins tries to use their various superpowers to break in. Given the obvious way that the movie wears its influences on its sleeve, this could have turned into a kind of greatest serial killer hits type of deal. Like a way for movie geeks to see who would win between Mickey & Mallory and Jigsaw if they were ever put into competition for a kill. Unfortunately, this particular movie does not do anything that interesting, instead choosing to introduce the boring players and then slowing to a crawl while we explore the backstory of Walter Weed and why anyone would want to kill him. Now, I’m assuming you are someone over the age of 14 who has seen a movie in his lifetime (and specifically The Usual Suspects) so you’re probably already 15 steps ahead of the script and have figured out who the mastermind actually is. Sadly, the FBI agents who are protecting Weed apparently aren’t big Kevin Spacey fans and can’t put the pieces together themselves.
So since we’ve established that the plot is recycled bullshit and the big twist is ridiculously obvious, is there any fun stuff going on to at least make it worth watching? Depends what you’re watching for, I guess. The Tremor family literally brings a circus with them (complete with exploding midget clowns) and it all seems very out of place for a movie that takes itself far too seriously at other points. Like when all the slow-motion gunplay starts and we’re suddenly supposed to care about who’s getting gunned down. The FBI agents who are supposed to protecting Weed are so hopelessly incompetent that I was glad to see them get mowed down like bowling pins anyway. Oh, also, the US government does some pretty bad stuff. This movie also wants to teach us that. I’m not 100% sure which movie it was ripping off with that lesson, but I’m certain it’s from something else.
I will say this, however: The final kill in this movie is a thing of beauty and very nearly redeems the rest of the plot. I’ll give it that much.