Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Piven, Ray
Liotta, Ben Afleck, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Jason Bateman
Released: 12th January 2007
Buddy 'Aces' Israel (Piven) is the top entertainer in Las Vegas. More importantly, though, is that he's also head of a crime syndicate based on connections he made in the Mafia.
The FBI have been cracking down on the mob and their last link to bring the entire crime organisation down will be on the testimony of Israel. Agents Messner (Reynolds) and Caruthers (Liotta) are sent to bring him in.
Of course the Mafia aren't going to take this lying down and a $1M bounty is placed on Israel's head drawing interest from contract killers all over the place.
There's a double team of young, sassy girls (Keys), a master of disguise, a master of torture, a trio of gunblazing Nazi brothers and an unknown man simply called The Swede.
Also in on the chase are a team of bondsmen led by Jack Dupree (Afleck).
Time is running out for Israel as all the elements close in to cash in on him and all he's got in his defence are a heavily armed hotel security guards and his own crew.
A diverse group of characters made up of an ensemble of charismatic, action actors keeps the film rolling along easily with very little time to sit back and ponder whether it's all a bit too clever or not.
Each protagonist has his/her own thread that cuts and interweaves through the others' stories. The laughs are plentiful, coming from the ensuing confusion and verbal exchanges. Probably playing the funniest cameo is Arrested Development's Bateman thoroughly debasing himself as the room-bound bond agent sending Afleck on his way.
There's a surprising comedy in the gratuity of the gunplay and variations therein. Redneck Nazis that indiscriminately slaughter anyone in their path without any consideration to their own safety are the most comical team and give Afleck the opportunity for some Oscar worthy acting.
The fast paced, quick-witted story also benefits from unpredictable fates for the characters. There's no real leading role here. You quickly see that star status means nothing to the producers and no-one is exempt from being felled by a hail of bullets. Each scene could result in the demise of anyone of them.
A very clever film that keeps all its strands flowing tightly together to
prevent loss of continuity and attention. If there was a downside then it's a
rather lack lustre 'twist' that didn't need to be there and comes as rather an
anticlimax after 90 minutes of non-stop action.