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File:Smokin-aces-001 7729.png

 Richard Messner: You said someone came up to you as an FBI agent?

Pimply Casino Employee: Yeah--

Richard Messner: And then you saw him get on the elevator wearing a security guard outfit?

Pimply Casino Employee: (stammering) Yeah?

Richard Messner: And that didn't seem odd to you?


A 2007 film, directed and written by Joe Carnahan, about the Stage Magician, Casanova Wannabe, and newly turned mob informant Buddy Israel--a washed-up, bitter, narcissistic, alcoholic drug abuser--who gets a million-dollar bounty on his head courtesy of mob lord Primo Sperazza. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues!

Did poorly with the critics (only 27% at Rotten Tomatoes) but moderately well at the box office. A lot comes down to to the ending, where it's revealed that the plot is actually a lot more dramatic than it first appeared, the final shot renders much of the film pointless. Among its detractors, this makes the film a waste of time. Among its appreciators, it's why the film is so good.

A prequel was released in 2010. This time, the target is Walter Weed, a lowly desk jockey at the FBI on the verge of retirement, who is informed by his bewildered superiors that a massive price has been placed on his head, on condition that he is killed at precisely 3:00AM on April 19th, the very day he retires. He is given a team of Federal Agents as bodyguards and taken to an impenetrable underground fortress disguised as a bar, while all manner of ruthless killers converge on his location. Once again, there is a twist at the end that changes the nature of the story.

Frequently compared to Shoot Em Up, a similarly self-indulgent action movie released around the same time, which is Love It or Hate It for precisely the opposite reason.

Tropes used in Smokin Aces include:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - "My boy Dale is at the Reno Correctional Facility. He's got some clarity issues. Did some home invasion, sodomy-torture type stuff; wrote a lot of bad checks."
  • Becoming the Mask - Heller was forced into this situation by FBI's mistake.
  • BFG - Sharice's "big mama" .50 sniper rifle gets Alpha (Fe)male honors here, but the Tremors' armory makes up in quantity what it lacks in quality.
  • Billing Displacement - Ben Affleck gets top billing. His job is to act as Mr. Exposition and then get killed by the Tremor Brothers a quarter of the way into the movie.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder - Pasquale's palm dagger Weapon of Choice.
  • Blast Out: Several times, most notably the Tremors coming out of the elevator.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: Darwin Tremor's text tattoo is an opening line from 'Mein Kampf'. It is translated very poorly however (possibly by an automated translator) and 'Braunau-am-Inn' (Hitler's birthplace) is rendered as 'Braunau-auf-der Gasthaus' ('Gasthaus' is German for 'inn'). May be justified though, because Darwin might have done the translation himself.
  • Blown Across the Room - Which is justified, for once. Unarmored FBI agents, versus a .50 anti-materiel rifle. The effects are obvious.
  • Boring but Practical - Sir Ivy manages to kill the Tremor Brothers - wielding chainsaws, flamethrowers, and WWII sub-machine guns - with a guard's boring Beretta and a casual Sig Sauer.
  • Bottomless Magazines - Ivy manages to fire about twelve shots from a revolver in one scene, all in quick succession. The director actually points this out quite gleefully on one commentary track.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer - Ripley Reed, almost literal example because he has a bunny costume head in his room. He is shown as bumbling, disheveled alcoholic. Later he is also revealed to be sleeping in women lingerie.
  • Card Sharp - Buddy. Doesn't do any good for him.
  • Carnival of Killers
  • Cerebus Ending - anyone who thought they were watching a Guy Ritchie-esque wacky-hitmen movie will be pretty surprised by the dark tone the eventual exposition scene takes.
  • Chainsaw Good - Jeeves Tremor.
  • Climbing Climax - Exaggerated Trope; Most of the film involves the various factions racing to the penthouse.
  • Cradling Your Kill - Pasquale to Bill. Seems genuinely distraught, despite having been chatting to the guy for five minutes.
  • Creator Cameo - Director Joe Carnahan as one of Israel's men during a flashback sequence.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Jeeves gets shot and collapses on his chainsaw.
  • Dead Person Impersonation - Lazlo's specialty.
  • Death Dealer - Buddy Israel can toss a card well enough to cut and distract his bodyguard, who was about to kill him for being willing to sell him out.
  • Decoy Protagonist / Sacrificial Lamb: Ben Affleck's character who gets top billing but ultimately only gets to act as Mr. Exposition before getting shot unceremoniously.
  • Deep-Cover Agent: Primo Sparazza a.k.a. Freeman Heller, in deep cover since the 40's.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Agent Messner crosses one at the end of the movie.
  • Downer Ending - Only Ivy, Georgia and Soot manage to get away (relatively) intact. Hollis, if he's lucky, will be a multiple amputee for the rest of his life. Acosta, judging by his arm-blade being activated on the stretcher, might live, but is likely to be incarcerated. Sharice gets caught, and presumably killed, by the FBI while watching her partner walk out on her. Messner will most likely lose his job and/or go to jail after pulling the life support plugs. Everybody else... well...
  • Dramatis Personae
  • Dual-Wielding
  • Elevator Action Sequence - Several, considering the Carnival of Killers are racing each other to a hotel penthouse. First starts with Acosta and an actual FBI agent wounding each other - the FBI agent's mortally wounded, which kicks off Messner's reason for revenge later on. Then Georgia is trapped in the elevator after investigating the open elevator and signals for Sharice to open up on the incoming FBI agents...
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Acosta, who is infamous for his obscenely gruesome torture techniques, simply punctures Matthew Fox's lung so he can die painlessly in his sleep.
  • Eyepatch of Power - Sharice wears one to help sniping.
  • Fingore: Hollis gets his left hand shot the hell up.
  • Genre Savvy - Once Ivy notices the smoke coming out of the elevator in front of him and Israel's security team, he starts slowly backing away. At which point the Tremor brothers burst out and massacre Israel's security team.
  • Glasgow Smile - Lazlo, as he is played by Tommy Flanagan, who sports these in Real Life.
  • Guns Akimbo
  • Hookers and Blow - Israel's lifestyle.
  • Impersonating an Officer
  • Instant Death Bullet - Averted. A lot.
  • Ironic Echo: Overlaps with the Despair Event Horizon above. When Messner is grieving after agent Carruthers is killed in the hotel he takes revenge by apparently killing a FBI Deep-Cover Agent.
  • It Got Worse : For all the characters, it never stops.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: Played with. Acosta kills the casino's chief of security, but comforts him in his dying moments. He tells him to close his eyes so that his face won't be the last thing the guy will ever see, because (switching to Spanish) "Heaven may hold it against you".
  • Latex Perfection - Lazlo Soot heavily relies on death masks taken from victims to disguise himself.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Master of Disguise - Lazlo Soot.
  • Numbered Sequels - With Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo.
  • Obfuscating Disability - Lazlo Soot's introductory scene.
  • Once More, with Clarity
  • Red Baron - The Swede. Everyone mistakes him as a hitman, due to his title. He's really an accomplished heart surgeon who was to be brought in after Lazlo got Buddy comatose and ready for the heart operation.
  • Rescue Romance - One starts between Ivy and Georgia.
  • Rule of Cool - The Movie
  • Shaggy Dog Story - At the end of the movie when everything is revealed and it transpires that the hit was one big mistake resulting from a mis-overheard conversation; Lazlo Soot was the only one actually hired and that was not to kill Israel but to abduct him. The Bureau then decided it only wanted Israel for his heart to save his Mob boss father and all the dead FBI died because they weren't told. Messner is so upset that his partner died just to save the life of the Mob boss, who he doesn't think will give up any useful information, that he pulls the plug on both him and Israel, making everything that happened for nothing.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun - Sharice and her aforementioned BFG.
  • Typecasting
  • Up to Eleven : the whole movie, particularly the Tremors.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left - Subverted for Darwin Tremor. Darwin looks like he's about to get away, but then he runs into Hollis on the way to his car. He apologises for what happened to Hollis and his friends and gives him the keys to his car. Just as it looks like they'll part ways peacefully, Hollis decides "oh, fuck this" and shoots Darwin anyway.
  • Villains Never Lie - Georgia.
  • Weapon of Choice - palm spikes, 50-cal sniper rifles, chansaws, playing cards...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The final scene.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? - Lazlo Soot at the end, when he manages to get Israel all alone, the latter not even aware of the danger he's in, but puts his gun down and starts carefully setting up what appears to be a bunch of torture instruments, and a needle. Double Subverted. He was actually hired to knock him out and abduct him so doctors could steal his heart for a transplant; however, Soot still wastes too much time, and doesn't notice that Israel nearly commits suicide while he's doing so. On the other hand, however, at least it makes it easier for him to escape when the FBI comes in.

Assassins Ball provides examples of:

  • Awesome By Analysis: Finbar immediately susses that Ariella is another assassin, and that most of the people in the bar are feds.
  • Batman Gambit: Weed put the hit out on himself. He's actually a terrorist mastermind who used his mid level desk job to plot attacks and murders abroad, and used a number of lethal assassins to do it. The entire film is a ploy to get the assassins killed and fake his death to cover his own tracks.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Tremors. Emphasis on "big" since Lester is the only one who is in both films; the other three are his brother, sister and dad.
  • Expy: Finbar McTeague is essentially Pasquale Acosta from the first film; both are coldly professional torturers with nicknames who are in it for the money, both of whom disguise themselves as FBI Agents.
  • Foregone Conclusion: As its a prequel, Lester Tremor and Lazlo Soot are both guaranteed to survive.
  • Glasgow Smile: Again, Lazlo.
  • Guns Akimbo
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: The cast isn't as impressive as it was the first time around, but its still pretty decent. The big name is Tom Berenger as the target, and at the end there is a cameo by Ernie Hudson.
  • Hidden Villain
  • Kiss of Death: Ariella Martinez's speciality.
  • Master of Disguise - Still Lazlo Soot.
  • Obfuscating Disability
  • Outlaw Couple: Finbar convinces Ariella to team up once he informs her the bar they are in is crawling with Federal Agents. They both die, but Ariella removes her poisoned lips to let Finbar kiss her, suggesting they had fallen for each other.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Hal Lueco
  • Torture Technician: Finbar McTeague, aka "The Surgeon".
  • Usual Suspects Ending - Subverted. Weed is shot by Baker in the middle of doing this.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Right when it looks like Weed/Leuco is about to make a standard, clean getaway at the end of the movie, Baker comes from nowhere and shoots him through the windshield. Doubles as Crowning Moment of Funny.