"Lucky Number Slevin" is slick and entertaining

by JD Warnock on April 7, 2006

in Print Reviews

“Lucky Number Slevin” is at the very least a clever crime caper. It comes complete with captivating and quirky performances and a story line that keeps you in the dark until the end, despite the transparency of the main character’s identity. Normally this sort of observation would be negative, but if you can show your cards and still keep your audience guessing, that is saying something.

“Lucky” serves up quick dialogue and offbeat humor ala “Ocean’s Eleven,” although not nearly as well. It certainly outsmarts lightweight films like “Get Shorty” or “Be Cool,” but falls far shy of the style and imagination of a masterpiece like “Sin City.” Still, the film was an entertaining ride full of unexpected turns from an eclectic cast.

Sir Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman give inspired performances. As “The Rabbi” (Kingsley) and “The Boss” (Freeman), they are two New York City crime bosses trapped inside opposing high-rises unable to leave for fear of the other. The film begins in earnest when they both send out colorful henchmen to find one man and, in a case of mistaken identity, end up with Slevin, played by Josh Hartnett. Kingsley and Freeman are brilliant while they are apart in the film and spectacular when they are together. Their fantastic confrontation finds them tied back-to-back in chairs as they realize the role the other has played in their respective sons’ deaths.

Hartnett is likable as hell as seemingly unaffected Slevin. The first hour sizzles on the strength of the interplay between Hartnett and “the girl across the hall” played by Lucy Liu. Bruce Willis also stars in “Lucky Number Slevin” as the cool and mysterious Smith. He takes a backseat to Hartnett, Freeman and Kingsley in this one, but as usual Willis does the “guy who’s good with guns” pretty well.

The editing in “Lucky Number Slevin” was at times jumpy and distracting. There were a few cuts that seemed like mistakes, which is curious for a feature film of this magnitude. The pace was rapid, and the constant flashing back and forth in the story line becomes tiring towards the end. However, the stylized slow reveal of concealed characters in flashback feels authentic to the episodic crime dramas the picture is going for. “Columbo” fans… this one is for you.

This film is best suited for a “Fun at the Theater” night. If you want heady, thought-provoking entertainment you would do well to see something else and come back to “Lucky Number Slevin” when the correct mood strikes. However, if you are down for a shoot em’ up vendetta movie with spunk and enough twists and turns to make you queasy, “Lucky Number Slevin” should do the trick nicely.

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