starring Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Common, Andy Garcia
written and directed by Joe Carnahan
starring Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Angie Harmon, Anjelica Huston
screenplay by Abby Everett Jaques & David Von Ancken
directed by David Von Ancken
by Walter Chaw Director Joe Carnahan replicates a heart attack in the prologue of Narc, and David Von Ancken, in the action-packed opening to his feature debut Seraphim Falls, simulates a mildly hysterical bout of narcolepsy--but more on that later. Carnahan's third film, Smokin' Aces, is drawing a lot of unfavourable comparisons to Guy Ritchie's gangster sagas, but the real lineage can be traced to whatever strain of viral ADD infected Tony Scott. The film is so like Scott's Domino in its visual affectations and uniform incompetence that the two pictures could exchange scenes willy-nilly without losing a step. (Compare it to Wayne Kramer's similarly canted Running Scared for a mini-primer on when lawless misanthropy and the coked-up editor aesthetic can be wielded with delighted, visceral purpose as opposed to simply wielded.) Ultimately, Smokin' Aces is little more than a parade of sad "didn't you used to be..." stunt cameos installed for the missing "edge" that buckets of blood, rains of bullets, and a few power tools seem incapable of manifesting. With Narc, Carnahan showed real growth from his directorial debut (Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, which is actually not unlike the new one at all). Now he's just showing off.