"Lucky Number Slevin"
Directed by Paul McGuigan.
Written by Jason Smilovic.
Starring Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley and Bruce
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 3/8/06
are coming fast and furious right now; tonight, my buddy Yac and I
went over to the indie theater for the area premiere of the Sundance
hit "Lucky Number Slevin."
Here's the short version of the plot:
a guy named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) shows up in New York to meet his
buddy Nick Fisher (Sam Jaeger) at his downtown apartment.
Problem--Nick's not at home when Slevin arrives, and after meeting
Nick's next-door neighbor Lindsey (Lucy Liu), EVERYTHING goes
unlucky for Slevin and he's kidnapped, separately, by two rival
gangs. Black gangsters, led by The Boss (Morgan Freeman) want
him to do a job; Jewish gangsters, led by The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley),
need him to pay back some money. Bigger problem--everyone
thinks that Slevin is Nick, and he owes all of these guys a lot of
money. Biggest problem--everyone wants Nick dead, and since
Slevin is mistaken for Nick, well...
There is a ton going on in "Lucky Number
Slevin", but thankfully, the script is twisty enough to make things
slightly confusing but never totally over your head and there are a
ton of characters to keep things interesting. Director Paul
McGuigan (he did
"Wicker Park" with Hartnett a couple years back) does a great
job with an absolutely loaded cast--in addition to his leads, we've
got Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, Robert Forster, Mykelti Williamson,
and Danny Aiello making turns at some point in this movie, and all
of them are great. There are some great laughs, snappy
dialogue (yes, I just said that), and some joke grenades that will
have you sitting there for a second before laughing your ass off as
you make sense of the riddle just laid out in front of you.
It's also got a shade of romance thanks to the Slevin/Lindsey angle,
and you've got some bloodshed thrown in for good measure that is
effective because it is so offsetting. For some people, this
will make "Lucky Number Slevin" a turnoff--a decent number of folks
have to get shot to make it to our denouement--but like "Pulp
Fiction", the violence doesn't really get in the way of your
enjoyment of the storyline, it just makes it more brutal a path to
At the center of it all is Hartnett, and I
find with many people that they either love him or hate him, but I
think that he typically overcomes bad material and strengthens
already solid scripts. In that sense, Hartnett seems to be
having fun in this role and he doesn't detract from the things
taking place around him.
The film never felt great to me, or even
superior; it's fun, it's cool, but it's not a classic crime caper
that does anything original. Further, you will see some of the
twists coming--the film changes gears midway through--and with
others, I thought the script actually took too long to explain what
was happening in its last 10 minutes. Also, I did not like the
last two minutes, for reasons that can only be explained when you
see the damned movie.
But, as a spring indie caper that feels like
a star-studded summer movie, "Lucky Number Slevin" is great, and
deserving of its initial praise. I believe this opens in DC
March 24th, but it's probably already out in LA and NYC.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard