Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a solid transfer.
Sharpness usually looked very good. A few wide shots came across as slightly soft, but not to a significant degree. The majority of the flick was concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement failed to appear. I also didn’t see any unintentional source flaws.
Aces went with a stylized palette, as the colors tended toward the desaturated side. A few more lively/garish sequences occurred; the hues tended to be all over the place, though again, much of the film stayed with a subdued palette. The disc replicated the tones with good fidelity, and they seemed to fit well with the visual design. Blacks were rich and tight, while shadows seemed clear and appropriately visible. I found little about which to complain here.
I also thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Ball proved effective. With its hyper-stylized feel, the movie boasted many opportunities for exaggerated elements. These didn’t dominate, actually, as a fair amount of the movie stayed with general atmosphere; a lot of the flick focused on the build-up to the action scenes, and those didn’t offer a great deal of information.
Nonetheless, they used the speakers to create a good feeling for the various settings, and the more active scenes kicked the package into higher gear. Those blasted gunfire and explosions all around us to form a vivid setting.
No issues with audio quality occurred. Speech was consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other problems. Music sounded lively and full, while effects appeared accurate – or hyper-accurate, as the case dictated. Ball exaggerated punches, gunfire and many other elements; these blasted us with the appropriate impact. All of this created a soundtrack that suited the material.
When we move to the movie’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from director PJ Pesce and executive producer Joe Carnahan. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific track. They discuss story and editing, cast and performances, locations and sets, music, stunts, and a few other areas.
While we learn a few decent details here, the commentary usually bores. It comes packed wall to wall with praise: an “I love” here, a “that’s great” there, all of which add up to a whole lot of self-congratulation. Pesce and Carnahan also tell us how drunk they’re getting during the session, and one long gap shows up a little before the film’s halfway point.
That’s probably a good time to bail on the track. The piece never gives us a great deal of info, but the level of discourse sinks even lower after that extended break. If you’re interested in the flick, stick with the commentary until that gap and then move on with your life.
11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 10 minutes, one second. The vast majority of these expand on the relationship between Weed and Baker; we also find an alternate ending. We also see short shots of some assassins, but Weed/Baker occupy almost all the space here. These clips essentially add up to extensions and additional exposition; they’re unnecessary.
Next comes a six-minute, 32-second Gag Reel. As I expected, these offer the usual assortment of flubbed lines and giggles. This is a pretty dull collection.
Five featurettes follow. Behind the Scenes with Joe Carnahan goes for six minutes, 29 seconds, as it includes notes from Carnahan, Pesce, co-writers Olatunde Osunsanmi and Olumide Odebunmi, executive producer Mike Elliott, and actors Maury Sterling and Christopher Michael Holley. “Scenes” looks at aspects of the first Aces movie and the development of the sequel. I could live without the hyperbole thrown at the original flick and Carnahan, but we get a few good details about the production of Ball.
In the 25-minute, 59-second Confessions of an Assassin, we hear from Pesce, Carnahan, Sterling, Holley, Elliott, armourer Rob Fournier, and actors Vinnie Jones, Tom Berenger, Clayne Crawford, Autumn Reeser, Martha Higareda, Carrie Keagan, Ernie Hudson, Michael Parks, Tommy Flanagan, David Richmond-Peck, and C. Ernst Harth. “Assassin” essentially acts as a video diary that follows the production. It doesn’t come with a concise look at aspects of the shoot; it just follows the flick through various scenes and takes us to the set. This approach lacks tons of great insight, but it lets us see the production through a good first-person perspective.
After this we get Ready, Aim, Fire: The Weapons of Smokin’ Aces 2. The four-minute, 17-second piece features Holley, Higareda, Jones, Reeser, Fournier, Sterling, Pesce, Crawford, Harth, and Richmond-Peck. “Aim” offers a rapid-fire look at all the guns and whatnot featured in the flick. It’s quick but reasonably effective.
Cue the Clown runs two minutes, 57 seconds and presents remarks from Holley, Richmond-Peck, Pesce, stunt supervisor Scott Ateah, 1st assistant SPFX Rob Paller, SPFX coordinator Darren Marcoux, and stuntman Matt Phillips. Like “Aim”, “Clown” runs through its subject in a quick but generally satisfying manner. We get a good take on the film’s oddest sequence.
Finally, the three-minute, 35-second The Bunker Mentality: Designing the Set includes notes from Pesce, Carnahan, Crawford, and production designer Chris August. As expected, we get a short look at the creation of the movie’s main location. Once again, we find a brief but fairly effective chat here.
Though I didn’t care for its predecessor, I hoped that Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball might produce a quality cinematic experience. Those dreams failed to come true, as the flick was little more than a loud, incoherent piece of action nonsense. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements, though the commentary disappoints. I can’t complain about this release, but the movie itself stinks.