|Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley
Director: Paul McGuigan
Category: Thriller / Action
It’s good to know that A-list Hollywood stars can still recognize a good script when they see one. If they didn’t, then perfectly enjoyable movies like “Lucky Number Slevin,” might not get made, and made with some of the top talent in the biz. Writer Jason Smilovic, who made a name for himself writing for the now sadly-defunct television series “Karen Sisco,” turns in a dizzyingly kinetic screenplay for “Lucky Number Slevin” that keeps the audience smiling, even in the wake of its unfortunate predictability.
Josh Hartnett plays Slevin, a seemingly average schmo who finds himself with a string of bad luck. He’s lost his job and his apartment, his girlfriend is banging some other guy, and to top it all off, he’s just been mugged. Add to this the fact that Slevin has been mistaken for someone who owes money to rivaling crime bosses, and the guy is not having a good day. Not that any of it bothers him too much. In fact, Slevin seems to relish his newfound circumstances, never missing an opportunity to risk bodily injury to shoot his mouth off just for the hell of it.
Although Slevin’s seemingly misguided bravado borders on the obnoxious, the story ultimately justifies the behavior. What isn’t justified however is the film’s propensity to be annoyingly cutesy, especially in its overly calculated dialogue between Slevin and love interest Lindsey (Lucy Liu). It doesn’t help that Liu seems miscast as a character that comes off at least ten years younger than the actress’ actual age. Thankfully the film and its story move on to more pertinent events before too much damage is done.
Although Josh Hartnett turns in a solid performance, “Lucky Number Slevin”’s strength is undeniably found in actors Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley, who turn in cheeky but brilliant performances as the film’s rivaling gangsters, The Boss and The Rabbi. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see mobsters in a film that don’t fall into tired stereotypes for once; at least not ones typical of this genre. Seeing these two actors onscreen together doing what they do best is positively electrifying and is alone worth going to see the film. And if that’s not enough, complementing Freeman and Kingsley is Bruce Willis, who stoically but competently shows up to play hired assassin Mr. Goodkat and add some welcome action sequences to the film.
Director Paul McGuigan (“Wicker Park”) brings an unusual style to “Lucky Number Slevin” that revels (almost too much) in retro hipsterness. Much like the main character, the film seems to be trapped in a bygone past, but of course this is intentional, isn’t it? The film’s design and photography oozes a visual flair that initially comes off heavy-handed but grows subtler and more effective as the film progresses. For the most part, “Lucky Number Slevin” is a finely crafted and well-acted thriller that stays entertaining, even if its outcome is as obvious as it is satisfying.
The single-disc DVD release of “Lucky # Slevin” doesn’t offer much in the way of special features, but there’s enough here to fill up at least a few hours of your time. A thirteen-minute EPK (“Making ‘Lucky # Slevin’”) is the least interesting of the bunch, while the four included deleted/alternate scenes only remind you of how slow-paced the film already is. Of course, the two commentary tracks (one with director Paul McGuigan, and the other with stars Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu) are the highlight of the disc, but only one of them is actually worth listening to. Not surprisingly, it’s the one with McGuigan, who not only offers up an insightful behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, but does so in a badass Scottish accent. It’s not much, but it sure put a smile on my face.