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Smokin' Aces is a 2006 crime drama film, written and directed by Joe Carnahan, set in Lake Tahoemarker, and primarily shot at MontBleu Resort Casino & Spamarker (renamed the "Nomad Casino" in the film). It marks Carnahan's third feature, following Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane and Narc. It stars Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds as the leads, with Piven as a Las Vegasmarker magician turned mafia informant and Reynolds as the FBImarker agent assigned to protect him. It is the feature film debut of both R&B artist Alicia Keys and rapper Common.


Agents Messner and Carruthers are staking out crime lord Primo Sparazza's estate. Sparazza, one of the leading members of the Mafia, has become bedridden with a heart condition. Monitoring a telephone call between Sparazza's underbosses, they learn that Sparazza has put out a $1 million hit on Buddy "Aces" Israel. He also wants Israel's heart brought to him before he dies and has hired a man called the "Swede" to retrieve it.

Buddy "Aces" Israel is a noted Las Vegas performer. Due to his popularity, Israel became friends with Primo Sparazza and other Mafiosi in Las Vegas. Israel eventually gained the loyalties of Sparazza's top men, with the idea of replacing Sparazza. His actions eventually split up the Sparazza crime family into dual factions, one with Sparazza and one with Israel. The infighting that followed drew the attention of federal authorities. The FBI offers Israel immunity from prosecution and entry into the United States Federal Witness Protection Program if he turns state's evidence to which he agrees.

Israel has secreted himself in the Nomad Casino penthouse suite in Lake Tahoe with his bodyguards Ivy, Hugo, and Beanie. Israel is living a life of relative luxury, protected by the Nomad's armed security. Messner and Carruthers are informed by FBI Deputy Director Locke that the FBI is currently in negotiation with Israel's agent/attorney, Morris Mecklen, for Israel's surrender to the FBI and testimony. Locke wants Messner and Carruthers in Lake Tahoe ready to take Israel into custody as soon as a deal is reached.

Word quickly spreads of the large bounty on Israel's head and an assortment of psychopaths and assassins are seeking to collect. Bail bondsman Jack Dupree and his partners, "Pistol" Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore hatch a plan to catch Israel. Hitwomen Sharice Watters and Georgia Sykes are hired to kill Israel. Torture expert and mercenary Pasquale Acosta, the psychotic neo-Nazi Tremor Brothers, and deadly master of disguise Lazlo Soot also join in the hunt for Israel.

The hitmen and bounty hunters descend on the hotel. Acosta disguises himself as an FBI agent and speaks with the Nomad security supervisor. Georgia plans to pose as one of Israel's prostitutes and kill him when she is let inside the penthouse while Sharice covers her with a sniper rifle at the hotel across the street.

Dupree explains his plan to Deeks and Elmore to sneak into the Nomad using Nomad security uniforms. Dupree's plan is cut short when the Tremor Brothers happen upon them and gun all three men down. The Tremors dump the bodies into nearby Lake Tahoe and take the uniforms.

Lazlo Soot, already in the basement of the Nomad, has killed Israel's butler Vitoli who he plans on impersonating. While learning to mimic Vitoli's voice, Hugo comes to the door. Soot kills him and decides to disguise himself as Hugo instead. News of Dupree's death travels fast and Messner is ordered to go to the murder scene to examine the bodies while Carruthers goes to the hotel to get Israel. Acosta, talking to the head of Nomad Security, learns the penthouse level is under construction, confirming where Israel is hiding. Acosta kills him and takes his uniform. Georgia waits by the elevator to go to the penthouse level. In the penthouse, Mecklen tells Israel Locke wants him to sell out everybody to the FBI, to which he reluctantly agrees. Ivy overhears the entire conversation and prepares to confront Israel.

Hollis emerges from Lake Tahoe, severely hypothermic and with three fingers missing. After wandering through the woods, he finds a cabin inhabited by an ADHD-afflicted boy and his grandmother. They bandage his wounds and raise his temperture. He departs, having borrowed gun.

Carruthers arrives at the hotel and heads upstairs to Israel's suite with Acosta (in disguise). In the elevator, Carruthers begins to suspect the guard is not who he claims to be. Carruthers confronts Acosta and the two draw on each other with Carruthers being stabbed before the two engage in a gunfight. Soot arrives upstairs disguised as Hugo and murders Beanie. Ivy confronts Israel about the phone call with Mecklen and, after denying it, Israel admits his betrayal. Ivy prepares to kill him, only to be thwarted when Buddy flicks a card, cutting his eye. Ivy starts firing blindly while Soot and Israel take cover and the security team breaks in. Ivy is then blamed for Beanie's death and restrained. Israel begins to break down while Soot, unnoticed, starts unpacking surgical tools. Outside of the room, the guards find the elevators unresponsive.

In Los Angeles, Locke is given a file. After reading through it, he backs out on Israel's deal and orders no one to inform Messner or Carruthers. Messner and several other agents arrive at the hotel and begin searching for Carruthers by first getting the elevators shut down. With this, The Tremors, having successfully gained entrance to the hotel, find themselves stuck. They then use a mobile generator to jump start their elevator. Upstairs, Georgia opens the elevator doors to find the unconscious and dying Carruthers and Acosta. She checks their pockets and finds that they are both FBI agents, to which Sharice says that one of them must be Soot. Since no one knows what he looks like, Georgia plans to kill whichever she thinks is the fake. Messner hears her over Carruthers' earpiece and sets up a position around her elevator.

On the penthouse level, smoke comes from the elevator and Nomad security draws their guns. The doors open and the Tremors rush out. As the Tremors begin to eliminate Nomad security, Mecklen informs Israel that the deal is off and Israel attempts suicide, but passes out from a heart attack before he can pull the trigger.

Downstairs, Georgia tells Sharice that she is trapped in the elevator with the FBI waiting outside. Sharice responds by firing on Messner and the agents, who start firing out of the windows. Acosta, still alive, shoots Georgia and is in turn shot by the Carruthers before he can kill her. Georgia, her radio having been shot by Acosta, loses contact with Sharice. Messner becomes distraught when Carruthers dies. Sharice, convinced that Georgia is dead, continues to fire on the FBI team. Georgia manages to get away in the elevator and heads upstairs. Upstairs, the Tremors have eliminated the entire Nomad security team. Ivy grabs a gun and kills two of the Tremors, with Darwin Tremor remaining. Once Georgia arrives, she finds Darwin, ready to kill Ivy with a machete. She draws her gun on Darwin and collapses in Ivy's arms, letting Darwin escape. Ivy and Georgia make their escape down the stairwell as Locke and other agents arrive. Darwin escapes the Nomad posing as an FBI agent.

The FBI arrives in the penthouse and interrupts Soot from proceeding. In the stairwell, Ivy and Georgia are stopped by Messner, who engages in a standoff with them. After she tells him that she didn't kill Carruthers, he lets them go. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks Locke to explain what happened but is interrupted by Soot who wounds a guard and quickly flees. Meanwhile, Ivy carries Georgia outside, Acosta is carried out on a stretcher (alive but wounded), and Soot leaves disguised as a security guard. Sharice sees Georgia alive, but is cornered by FBI agents and is presumably killed. Darwin shot to death by Hollis in the hotel's parking structure.

Messner arrives at the hospital where Israel was taken and finds Locke. Messner, gun drawn, orders Locke to tell him why they were not informed to leave the mission when the agency backed out on Israel's deal. Locke leads Messner into a hospital room where Israel and Primo Sparazza are unconscious. Locke reveals that they are father and son. Sparazza had had an affair with a Vegas showgirl in the sixties who gave birth to Israel. Messner is told that Sparazza wanting Israel's heart was not for a vendetta but for a transplant, which the FBI is setting up. The Swede is actually a head of cardiology who will make the transplant. The real contract was given to Soot, who was hired to control the situation so they could bring out Israel safely. Messner doesn't understand why they would kill Israel to keep Sparazza alive, to which Locke gives Messner the file he received earlier.

The file contains information about FBI agent Freeman Heller. Who, after heavy plastic surgery, went undercover to infiltrate the mob using the name Primo Sparazza in the 40's. The FBI then faked Freeman Heller's death, saying Primo Sparazza had killed him. Later, the FBI believed Heller had actually switched sides to the mob so they sent someone to kill him. Heller survived the assassination attempt and, enraged that he was betrayed, continued to live his life as Primo Sparazza. Primo Sparazza's real identity has been hidden in a cover-up for over 60 years.

Now, Heller/Sparazza has made a new deal with the FBI: Israel's heart for all of the information he has on the Mafia. The FBI intends to transplant Isreal's heart, and get the information from Heller/Sparazza. Messner, furious over Carruthers and the other deaths that occurred earlier, believes that even if they saved him his info may not be valid. Locke threatens to fire him but instead orders him to forget about the mission and leave. Messner backs down and Locke leaves. Messner stands for a moment before he tearfully walks into Israel and Sparazza's room. He locks the door behind him and proceeds to pull the plugs on their life support systems. He then quietly lays down his gun, ammo and badge in front of him. Seconds later, Locke, the Swede, and many others desperately try to break in and stop him. Messner continues to sit in disbelief as Buddy Israel and Primo Sparazza die.




  • Ryan Reynolds as Richard Messner: A rookie FBImarker special agent working with his partner and mentor Donald Carruthers. They discover a threat to Israel's life and are assigned to keep him in protective custody.
  • Ray Liotta as Donald Carruthers: A veteran FBI special agent and the partner and mentor of Richard Messner.
  • Andy García as Stanley Locke: The soft-spoken and ruthless Assistant Director of the FBI. He is Messner and Carruthers' immediate superior, and is negotiating for Buddy Israel's testimony.
  • Mike Falkow as Freeman Heller: A legendary former OSS operative turned FBI agent who was the first undercover operative in bureau history. After infiltrating the Carlotta crime family in the 1940s, he was allegedly murdered by future family boss Primo Sparazza.


  • Joseph Ruskin as Primo Sparazza: The invalid, Las Vegas-based boss of the Carlotta crime family, who has been operating with impunity since the 1940s. He is Buddy Israel's former patron and, after learning that Israel plans to testify, he hires contract killer Lazlo Soot to kill him and cut out his heart.
  • Alex Rocco as Sidney K. Serna: The underboss of the Carlotta crime family. After learning of the contract on Israel, he senses an opportunity to gain leverage on his boss and hires two contract killers of his own to abduct Israel before Soot can kill him.
  • David Proval as Victor "Buzz" Padiche: A capo in the Carlotta crime family and Serna's right-hand man. He is dispatched to personally hire Sykes and Watters.


  • Tommy Flanagan as Lazlo Soot: A legendary hitman and master of disguise who wears realistic latex masks. He agrees to kill Israel for a $1 million bounty.
  • Alicia Keys as Georgia Sykes: A female contract killer. She and her partner, Sharice Watters, are hired by Serna to abduct Israel from his hotel before Soot can kill him.
  • Taraji P. Henson as Sharice Watters: A female contract killer and the partner of Georgia Sykes. She is an outspoken feminist and is an ever-so-slightly closeted lesbian with a crush on her partner.
  • Nestor Carbonell as Pasqual "The Plague" Acosta: A Latin American mercenary notorious for both his love of torture and his having chewed off his own fingertips while in SASmarker custody to avoid identification by Interpolmarker. He learns of the contract on Israel and tries to collect on it himself.
  • Chris Pine as Darwin Tremor: The eldest of the Tremor brothers, a trio of redneck, speed-freak, neo-Nazi skinhead hitmen with a penchant for scorched earth tactics. They get wind of the hit on Israel and decide to home in on the action.
  • Kevin Durand as Jeeves Tremor: The largest and youngest of the Tremor brothers.
  • Maury Sterling as Lester Tremor: The smallest of the Tremor brothers.

Bounty hunters

  • Jason Bateman as Rip Reed: An insecure, disheveled, and perverse attorney with any number of paraphilias and addictions. His law firm bailed Israel out of jail, so he hires three bounty hunters to get him back before he officially jumps and they forfeit the bond.
  • Ben Affleck as Jack Dupree: A world-weary Las Vegas bail bondsman who is hired to bring Buddy Israel back from Lake Tahoe and see that he makes his next court appearance.
  • Peter Berg as "Pistol Pete" Deeks: A former Las Vegas vice cop fired from the force for corruption. He and his partner Hollis are hired by Dupree to help him recover Israel.
  • Martin Henderson as Hollis Elmore: A former Las Vegas vice cop and the partner of Pistol Pete. He was not corrupt, but took the fall anyway for sticking with Pete.



  • Curtis Armstrong as Morris Mecklen: Buddy Israel's talent agent, who acts as his attorney while negotiating his deal with the feds.
  • Matthew Fox as Bill: The head of security at the Lake Tahoe hotel where much of the action occurs.
  • Wayne Newton as Himself: "Mr. Las Vegas" appears onstage with Buddy Israel during a flashback sequence.
  • Joe Carnahan, the film's writer-director, has a cameo as an armed robber at the beginning of the film.


The original soundtrack release included the following track listing:

  1. "First Warning" – The Prodigy
  2. "Big White Cloud" – John Cale (U.S. release only)
  3. "Ace of Spades" – Motörhead
  4. "Down on the Street" – The Stooges
  5. "Play Your Cards Right" – Common
  6. "Trespassing" – Skull Snaps c&p Ten12 Records
  7. "Segura o Sambura" – Nilton Castro
  8. "Touch Me Again" – Bernard "Pretty" Purdie
  9. "Under the Street Lamp" – Joe Bataan
  10. "I Gotcha' Back" – GZA
  11. "I Love You" – The Bees
  12. "Morte di un Soldato" – Ennio Morricone
  13. "Save Yourself" – Make-Up
  14. "Like Light to the Flies" – Trivium
  15. "FBI" – Clint Mansell
  16. "Shell Shock" – Clint Mansell
  17. "Dead Reckoning'" – Clint Mansell


Box office

According to Box Office Mojo, the movie grossed $14,638,755 on its opening weekend (2,218 theaters, averaging $6,599 per theater).The movie grossed a total of $US 35,662,731 in the USA market and $US18,878,474 outside the U.Smarker, making a total worldwide gross of $US54,541,205.

Critical reception

The movie mainly received negative reviews, scoring a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

DVD Sales

DVD sales were very successful, acquiring more than double the budget. Smokin' Aces was released on DVD on April 17, 2007 and went on to sell 1,853,397 DVD units which translated to revenue of $35,714,831.


On July 17, 2007, director Joe Carnahan announced via his website that a second Smokin' Aces film was in the works and production had just been greenlit by Universal Pictures. Carnahan also mentioned that the film will be a prequel to the original and will go straight to DVD. It has been speculated that the prequel will prominently involve the Tremor Brothers and Brian Bloom's character, Agent Baker. Carnahan has himself mentioned the idea in interviews, but is yet to confirm. The movie will star Vinnie Jones, Tom Berenger, Maury Sterling, Autumn Reeser, Michael Parks, Keegan Connor Tracy, C. Ernst Harth, Martha Higareda, Tommy Flanagan, Ernie Hudson, and Christopher Michael Holley.

Alternate ending

An alternate ending can be seen on the DVD, called the "Cowboy Ending". The scene takes place directly after Locke informs Messner of the FBI's real intentions surrounding Sparazza and Israel, but rather than pulling the life support cords of Israel and Sparazza as he does in the used ending, he instead draws his weapon and empties his pistol into them.

In other media

  • A Smokin' Aces comic book tie-in appears online and was published as a special booklet with certain copies of the Smokin' Aces DVD.
  • The flashy cardwork seen during the movie was done by professional magicians and flourishers Dan and Dave Buck. Most of the cuts and moves seen in the movie were designed by the Buck twins themselves.


  2. Joe Carnahan says Smokin’ Aces 2 Will be a Prequel | | Asian, Foreign, Horror, and Genre Movie Reviews and News
  3. Smokin' Joe Carnahan
  4. INT: Joe Carnahan

External links

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