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I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY
Lucky Number Slevin (DVD)
Member Name: Mauri
Lucky Number Slevin (DVD)
Date: 14/11/06, updated on 14/11/06 (258 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting story, nicely paced, Lucy Liu
Disadvantages: Have to concentrate
In the same way that Guy Ritchie is credited for re-inventing the British crime thriller in this country with ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ (1998) people like Tarantino with ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992) and Brian Singer in ‘The Usual Suspects’ (1995) did the same for the American genre. These films became the new film noir for the MTV generation. A distinctive style which brought together fast cutting, evocative music combined with a lot of dark humour developed and ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ is the latest exponent of this sub genre.
Slevin is a young man recently unemployed and split up from his girlfriend who now finds himself in the need of somewhere to stay. Accepting an offer from an old friend to stay in his apartment he soon finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unwittingly he becomes involved in a long running feud between rival gangsters The Boss and The Rabbi. After a string of gangland murders everyone is out for revenge and Slevin is stuck in the middle. The hapless Slevin is soon befriended by one of his friend’s neighbours Lindsey who has a flair for sleuthing. She quickly decides to help him figure out what is going on. But who is the mysterious Mr Goodkat? How is he involved with Slevin’s predicament and what is the ‘Kansas City Shuffle’? To complicate matter everyone is under constant surveillance by the tenacious police detective Brikowski…
‘Lucky Number Slevin’ looks great and is well acted but what you are going to remember most is the convoluted plot and for that reason not too much detail can be revealed in this review. As a character in Blackadder might say the story is twistier than a very twisty thing!
The film features some heavyweight casting dripping with honours and film academy nominations and everyone involved in the film is on the top of their game. Morgan Freeman usually more associated with sympathetic roles plays one of the vicious feuding gangsters ‘The Boss’ with quiet reserve and elegance a striking contrast to Ben Kingsley more menacing portrayal of his sworn enemy ‘The Rabbi’. It’s a pleasure to see two great actors enjoying themselves playing such outrageous characters.
(Why is he called the Rabbi? Because he’s a Rabbi…)
Josh Hartnett whom I’m not too familiar with is Slevin the wisecracking hero of the story a trait that gets him into physical harm with alarming regularity. Some may remember him from other films such as Black Hawk Down and Sin City. Hartnett is charming in the role coming across as vulnerable yet defiant in a very laid back kind of way. He also provides extensive eye candy for the ladies (and men that way inclined) parading in nothing more than a revealing bath towel for early part of the film. Lucy Liu is the love interest and looks gorgeous in a slightly ‘kooky’ style throughout the film.
The film also boasts Bruce Willis, although his role can be described as central to the story it is little more than an extended cameo role. It really can’t be said to test his acting skills either since most of the time he is required to look enigmatic in a tough guy sort of way. I must admit that although I’m not a Willis fan I tend to end up really liking the films he’s in, from the Die Hard franchise, Pulp Fiction and Sixth Sense (even Hudson Hawk I didn’t think was as bad as some made out…maybe it was…). I suppose it can be said that although limited in many ways he does what he does well and as long as the film has a good script he’s fairly adaptable in action roles. In this respect Lucky Number Slevin fits the bill. Once again Willis is part of a good ensemble and certainly his contribution doesn’t harm the project. Completing the notable performances is the ever-dependable Stanley Tucci as Brikowski the cop desperately trying to make sense of the unfolding events. There is a collection of colourful peripheral characters all having a welcomed impact on the story.
The film certainly doesn’t break new ground and we can see elements influences from previous and it must be said better films. As mentioned before the complexity of the plot leads you to think of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Memento’ although both those films were far more innovative in the way the story was presented and structured. We do get our obligatory flashbacks, which at first don’t seem to make sense with the overall story but for the most part the story is linear and there are enough clues (so concentrate!) to enable the viewer to work out most but not all of the elements of the plot well before the end.
The action sequences are well constructed but once again are slightly derivative of other action films. The use of zoom, slow motion panning and quick cutting to emphasise aspects of the fight sequences work well but are no different to what we have seen in for instance ‘The Matrix’. With its snappy dialogue and great one-liners the film exudes chic and style but be warned it does have darker undertones and there are a couple of instances where you are taken aback by the turn of events.
One final thing to mention… the wallpaper what was that all about?
Directed by Paul McGuigan and written by Jason Smilovic.
Josh Hartnett .... Slevin
Bruce Willis .... Mr. Goodkat
Lucy Liu .... Lindsey
Morgan Freeman .... The Boss
Ben Kingsley .... The Rabbi
Michael Rubenfeld .... Yitzchok
Peter Outerbridge .... Dumbrowski
Stanley Tucci .... Brikowski
The 18 certificate is justified by a high body count, quite a bit of graphic violence, strong language and a few short sex scenes. Runtime 109 minutes.
Overall this is a film that will greatly entertain if you are prepared to suspend disbelief and accept the comic book characterisation, which I will gladly do. Is it as claimed by many to be too clever for its own good? Almost but not quite. First time screen writer Jason Smilovic certainly tries very hard to include many surprises to keep the audience on its toes and almost overdoes it but I get the feeling that the plotting is very much tongue-in-cheek and the film is not meant to be taken too seriously. It won’t be a movie that will stand up to much scrutiny or analysis after the event and whilst the story is cleverly plotted on closer examination large cracks can easily be found but this does not take anything away from your enjoyment it is only meant to be a bit of stylish escapist fun.
© Mauri 2006
Summary: Film Noir for the MTV generation