Smokin' Aces - HD DVD Combo Format

Smokin' Aces is a thriller-action film full of suspense and quite satisfying. I liked it, and I had not seen it before the HD DVD arrived. The studio calls it an action "comedy." But don't look to this movie for laughs.

The plot line seems simple. Buddy "Aces" Israel, a fast talking Las Vegas magician with ties to the Mob, is cooperating with the FBI. The Mob finds out and puts out a $1 million contract on him. Out of the woodwork come all manner of hit men (and women) – bikers, professionals, seducers and bunglers. All are racing to reach Israel's penthouse suite before their rivals. Of course, they run into each other along the way, causing gunplay and other violence, while Israel worries, frets, flips cards and snorts cocaine awaiting FBI agents to get there and sweep him away to safety, a new identity, and life. The FBI, of course, is slow and bumbling compared to the killers for hire.

The film runs on fast takes, many of which are intended to introduce and explain the various hit teams and the FBI "saviors." But, as you might expect, nothing is quite as it seems. The ending offers considerable surprises.

The movie was well acted by Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta, among others. Even with all the shooting and other assorted violence, the actual blood and gore was kept to a minimum, though the film still has an R rating. Extras include an entertaining alternate ending, 18 minutes of deleted scenes, and more.

The picture quality was superb, just as sharp as you would expect from a fine HD DVD transfer. Color fidelity was excellent. The audio is Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. Given all the firepower and fireworks, the film had a lot of opportunities to show off in the soundtrack. But while I found its use of sound pleasing, it was not at all unique.

On balance, this is an all-around great DVD. I recommend it.

Film: 9.0 (out of 10)… Picture: 9.0… Audio: 8.5