Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Director Joe Carnahan told SuperHeroHype that he’s “desperate” to do another comic-book adaptation, and that he’s got his sights set on Garth Ennis’ acclaimed comic series Preacher.
I know Ennis’ work through his brilliant runs on Marvel’s Punisher Max series, and I appreciate his impulses to work on the boundaries of the superhero genre where he can effectively comment on it. For the unitiated, Preacher explores a host of religious themes through a slightly mad holy dude whose body houses a powerful supernatural creature. Y’know – your usual Sunday school stuff.
Seeing an adaptation of Preacher intrigues me, though I wonder about Joe Carnahan’s skills as a director after his opus Smokin’ Aces. Pretty much, when a director of Carnahan’s caliber writes and directs a “bad-ass” flick like Smokin’, he’s laying all his cards on the table. Unfortunately for Carnahan, the hand he presented to the world was a pair of deuces that relied on contrivance, delay, illogic and coincidence.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I like Smokin’ Aces. I own it on iTunes, and it’s been my background noise for many an extended writing or programming project. But after watching it dozens of times, I came to notice how unrepentantly stupid it is.
The movie kicks off with a serviceable introduction – the world’s best assassins descend on Lake Tahoe to take out a prized government witness (Jeremy Piven) – but despite the urgency drummed into the federal agents at movie’s center (Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds), the feds seemingly have the time to stop to eat before arriving at the hotel to secure the witness’ safety.
Elsewhere in the story, we meet a trio of chainsaw-wielding, shotgun-toting redneck loonies who are known for blasting their way into public places to take out a target. But when they arrive in Lake Tahoe, they suddenly decide to disguise themselves as bellhops and sneak into the hotel. Wouldn’t they just open fire? These three guys spend the better part of the movie in a dark elevator.
Despite her successful recording career, Alicia Keys decided she had to snatch a role from a working actress and plays one of the hitmen, and despite the shit I just gave her for taking up spaces on two of the interminable ladders leading skyward to artistic stardom, she delivers a nice performance. Unfortunately, Carnahan has to strand her alone in a hallway for most of the movie. Her character even comments on it at one point.
Meanwhile, one of the hitmen (a master of disguise) makes his way up to the star witness’ suite before everyone else and is essentially alone in the suite with the target and one other character. I can’t even fucking remember how Carnahan delays the inevitable with that storyline, but somehow, the hitman manages to spend most of the movie in the suite not killing the target.
Okie-dokie. I just spent a few hundred words tearing this movie a new asshole. But you know what? I’m pumped for Carnahan to direct Preacher because Smokin’ Aces, for all of its dumbfuckery, has a few wonderful scenes lurking among its wreckage.
In one, a master assassin kills a buffoonish hotel employee and provides absolution (and advice) for this hapless schmuck as he dies. Carnahan had the good fortune to secure the services of Lost’s Matthew Fox as the hotel rep, and Fox gladly hides his good looks under a mullet wig and thick glasses. Nestor Carbonell, another Lost regular, plays the assassin. Sadly, I can’t find this clip online, but here’s an excerpt from the script:
Acosta pockets his ID as he yanks the pass key off the Supervisor's neck. His natural accent returns.
Yes it is and right now it's filling your lungs. In less than a minute, you'll asphyxiate and pass out. You shouldn't be feeling any pain now.
The Supervisor's knees begin to buckle, nervous system slowly shutting down. Acosta steadies him, easing him to the floor.
Close your eyes. Think of something wonderful. Don't make this face the last thing you ever see. (beat, in Spanish) Heaven may hold it against you.
Two other great scenes involve Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman:
And another recording artist, Common:
I heap praise on Common because he’s a refreshing creature: A guy who lacks some of his costars’ formal acting training, but who is nonetheless relaxed and true on camera.
So to Joe Carnahan I’d offer this: If you take on Preacher, think of those perfect scenes from Smokin’ Aces and don’t strand everyone around an elevator shaft.
Elsewhere in the world of comics, we found out that the cast for The First Avenger: Captain America is shaping up to be a good one: Stanley Tucci joined Tommy Lee Jones, Toby Jones, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell and Neal McDonough.
We also saw the first full-body shots of Chris Hemsworth as Thor.
Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.