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"Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball" Review

If the trailer and Wikipedia page didn't say so, there is no reason to think that Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball was in any way connected to the original 2007 film and other than that film's director being a producer and given "characters by" credit, I still don't see the connection other than a bunch of assassins are trying to kill the same guy and a lot of shooty-shooty-bang-bang occurs.

Tom Berenger stars as Walter Weed, a mid-level FBI agent in a wheelchair who is informed that he has been targeted with a contract that requires him to be dead by 3 a.m. April 19th. Who and why he's wanted dead is unknown, so the FBI mounts an elaborate protection operation to keep him alive until he's worthless to kill. They take him to a hidden bunker under a FBI front Chicago jazz bar and figure he's safe there. Of course, they're wrong as four assassins - Vinnie Jones, some hot Mexican babe, a creepy guy who makes death masks of his victims while they're alive, and a family of Southern redneck idiots and one hot crazy chick (Autumn Reeser) - all manage to show up at the club. Mayhem ensues.

The first film was an so-so wacky actioner with some surprising casting, but this one is mostly stylized mayhem over substance. All the killers are giving splashy intros and there is some witty bantering while they're killing time until it's killing time, but I was able to guess how it was going to play out about two minutes in, so it was just a countdown to the inevitable, Knew it," moment. The mayhem is unrealistic, but that's not the problem; it just seems so...needless. Sure, it's fun to see dynamite-loaded circus clowns used as munitions, but the fake explosions undersell the potential.

More problematic is the ending which appears to show people we saw killed sneaking away from the scene. Very weird. Oh, wait a second...I get it now, one of the killers goes on to be in Smokin' Aces. (I looked it up; I never would've made the connection because it's such an obscure player. Fail.)* Also, since when have prequels had a higher number than the original? Shouldn't it have been Smokin' Aces 0: This Isn't Necessary?

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.

* UPDATE: After posting this review, I watched the extras and discovered that several of the characters were in the original movie, including one of the Tremor Brothers, the crazed trio of Road Warrior-looking guys who were one of the few memorable things about that movie. That I didn't realize this was the same gang really shows how this prequel/sequel/NyQuil is really for hardcore fans of the original only.


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