Smokin’ Aces The over-revved speed-freak storytelling in this one offers a good deal of fun—fun that continues well beyond the point at which things begin to go really rancid. Writer-director Joe Carnahan’s slam-bang yarn piggy-backs plot twists, character intros and wisecracking jive from the outset, and that generates a farcical energy whose appeal is almost enough to sustain the entire operation. But if the crazed storytelling seems irresistible, especially in the early reels, the story itself soon runs afoul of its own blithe, cynical nastiness. Carnahan sets out a patently over-the-top tale with FBI agents, Mafiosi and a horde of gonzo assassins converging on the penthouse lair of a supposedly protected witness—one Buddy “Aces” Israel, a stage magician with Lake Tahoe casino connections and Mafioso aspirations. But well before the film’s plague-on-both-your-houses ending, it’s evident that Carnahan’s killer comedy lacks the courage of its farcical intentions. At the risk of making it sound more perversely interesting than it really is, Carnahan’s movie pulls the rug out from under itself (and its audience) far too often to have any kind of integrity—comic or dramatic—left at the finish. .