Lucky Number Slevin * * * 1/2

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Director: Paul McGuigan.
Screenplay: Jason Smilovic.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, Danny Aiello, Kevin Chamberlin Mykelti Williamson, Dorian Missick, Robert Forster.

The biggest thing I remember hearing about this film upon it’s release was the mentioning of Ben Kingsley’s Knighthood on the film poster. This seemed to create quite a stir, as professional credits don’t normally include this. It transpired that is was all just a mistake but it overshadowed the film itself. A shame really, as this is quite a tight little mystery/thriller.

Arriving in New York to stay at a friend’s apartment, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) finds that his friend is missing and owes money to two very dangerous criminals – The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). Added to which, Slevin finds himself mistaken for his absent friend and soon involved in a lot of trouble with them both. With the help of his friends neighbour Lindsey (Lucy Liu), Slevin tries to clear up the confusion.

I’ve always been a sucker for films that twist and tease, keeping you perplexed and forcing you to keep up to speed. I like it when the script has actually been given some attention and one that demands the attention of the viewer. This is that type of film. It keeps you guessing and is not without a dark and lightness of touch either. It helps when there’s an impressive cast assembled also and each of the performers involved here deliver fine pieces of work. Seeing old hands Freeman and Kingsley play off one another is a particular highlight. Ultimately, it’s the convoluted nature of the story that impresses most though. Screenwriter Jason Smilovic and director Paul McGuigan add substance and style to the proceedings and keep you at just the right distance from the characters’ motivations. However, intricate and clever films also face the danger of becoming too loaded. For the most part, this film is a success but the denouement is a little muddled. For a film of this type to work, it needs to have a pay-off and this does have a satisfactory one. The only problem is, it has one too many. Without revealing too much, the fate of a prominent character seems like it’s been tacked on and stinks of studio involvement, letting down an otherwise intricate and cleverly constructed film.

A satisfyingly convoluted crime yarn with an impressive and eclectic mix of actors. However, the unravelling is a major demerit. Well… that and Willis’ ridiculous hairpieces.

Mark Walker

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17 Responses to “Lucky Number Slevin * * * 1/2”

  1. I really liked this one. I have it right behind me on the shelf, next to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ;) Never heard about the incident with Ben Kingsley though. I’ve read somewhere that he’s very sensitive when it comes to his title – maybe that was the reason why it ended up on the poster.

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    • Yeah, I liked it too but really didn’t like how it wrapped up at the end. Everything was fine until the gaping Hollywood part. I don’t want to say too much for anyone that hasn’t seen it but there is a bit they could completely omit and it would have worked much better.

      As for Kingsley… apparently he wasn’t happy about being addressed as “Sir” on the credits and it had never happened before, until now. Turns out it was a complete mistake on the part of a studio exec.

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  2. Never got around to seeing this movie which surprises me because after seeing Black Hawk Down I went on a mini Josh Harnett spree (even 40 days and 40 nights a movie about a guy who forces himself to go without sex for 40 days. I guess that’s tough if you’re him, lol)

    I’ve been very confused with a lot of Kingsley’s movie choice in the past 10 years or so, but this ranks up in the top half I’d say

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    • This is worth a look if you like films that deliver plenty of twists. I was even tempted to rate it higher but the rating I decided on is still a good one.

      Yeah, what’s with Kingsley’s film choices. I agree man, he’s appeared in some odd ones that you wouldn’t normally pay him out for. “The Wackness” being a particular one.

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  3. Good review Mark. This film seems like it was trying so damn hard to be a cool/different kind of thriller but came off as a cheap Pulp Fiction rip-off. There are some good performances but the story didn’t do much to keep me interested all that much.

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    • Thanks man. I thought it was quite good but towards the end, it really let itself down. However, I was engrossed for the most part. I suppose it was another Tarantino imitation in some ways but I’ve seen a damn site worse than this.

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  4. I remember literally nothing of this film. Not a single thing.
    Which is a shame, too, because I thought I quite liked it.

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  5. I didn’t realize this movie has such a great cast, wow. I’m not too fond of Josh Hartnett even though he’s from Minnesota, but I’ll watch this for the supporting cast and because you recommend it, of course :)

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  6. Great review and great cast! You know, I started watching this one years ago but for the life of me I can’t remember why I didn’t finish!

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  7. […] reviews a truly underrated film entitled Lucky Number Slevin, starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben, and […]

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  8. Great review! I like this film a lot and I agree the script was fantastic, I was quite blown away with all the twist. Also Lucy Liu is ridiculously adorable in this one.

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