Movies: A Fabulous "Fly-By"
Sometimes it takes a decade
An unbelievable cast, an outrageous story, a bang-up, over-the-top action gem
By Ray Cunneff
October 15, 2017
Sometimes a film can't be fully appreciated at the time of its release, in this case a decade ago, and becomes for most people a "fly-by"- just one more gem of a film that somehow got past them. Sometimes a film introduces actors who later became big stars, plays with our storytelling expectations and isn't afraid to break all the rules - and do it in outrageous style.
Critics savaged the film, not appreciating its dark humor or it's gloriously gratuitous violence. The New York Times critic A.O. Scott famously called the film a "Viagra suppository for compulsive action fetishists" and "not only dumb, but the cause of dumbness in others". (A steal from Samuel Foote.)
One critic described the film's (very satisfying) ending as "Tarantino on speed" as if that was a bad thing. In short, they just didn't get it. But I wonder if they would say the same thing today?
How many films can boast a cast like this: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven, Jason Bateman, Common, Chris Pine, Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Andy Garcia, Joel Egerton, Martin Henderson, Peter Berg and Wayne Newton?
This is one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures. And what film are we talking about, you ask?
Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use)
Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Joe Carnahan
The story: Sleazy night club entertainer/magician Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) incurs the wrath of a crime boss when he agrees to testify for the FBI against the Las Vegas mob. Two FBI agents (Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds) are tasked with protecting him from a rogues gallery of bounty hunters, hit men and deadly foxes who are converging on his Lake Tahoe penthouse to exterminate him and collect a $1 million reward.
Talk about playing with expectations, Ben Affleck killed in the first reel.
And yes, that's Chris Pine.
At least one critic got it right: "This movie will blow you away!"