Lucky Number Slevin
Director: Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park)
Writer: Jason Smilovic
Producers: Christopher Eberts, Andreas Grosch, Kia Jam, Robert Kravis, Tyler Mitchell, Anthony Rhulen, Chris Roberts
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 109 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

     Pleased, was I, to see a cleverly scripted, character driven film that leads us down a dark, but fun path of revenge and surprises. This is the kind of film of which you can see a twist coming, so you're mind is reeling with possibilities as the story rolls on. I have to admit, I thought I had it figured out about halfway through...ah, but I was surprised. Sometimes the twist is, there is no twist. And sometimes, there is a twist on a twist. I'm not telling on this one, but let's just say I was mostly wrong on all of my predictions on how this one was going to end.

      Slevin is the lead character's name; played by Hartnett. He's a down on his luck twenty-something who is the unfortunate victim of mistaken identity. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that the people who mistakenly identify him, are the top dogs in two major, rival, crime syndicates (Freeman & Kingsley) who claim that Slevin owes them...and owes them big. Enter Bruce Willis. A sneaky character that seems to always be lurking in the right spot and we're not sure exactly what he is doing there, but you just know it's probably not good.

      Once Slevin is confronted seperately by the two men, the plot really starts to thicken. The cops are on his tail, he owes a boatload of money to one crime family and a huge favor to the other. How will he pull all this off, play both sides and still manage to keep his life? He meets a girl (Lucy Liu) and together they spark a relationship that seems to be all good. Convenient. She is his crutch and together they scheme a plan.

      Like I said, the plot just takes off from here and the pacing is fantastic. There is almost never a dull moment and something is always prepared to leap from the screen just when you think we're about to have an intimate or slow moving moment.

      Kingsley, Willis and Freeman: all masters of the trade. No reason to even mention them. The names stand alone as symbols of excellence. Hartnett and Liu, on the other hand, are two actors that I have always not cared for. Hartnett for his choice in roles and his mediocre acting ability and Liu because everyone seems to be infatuated with her looks, and I never have been. All that changed today with "Lucky Number Slevin." Hartnett is very charismatic and you can't help but love this character immediately. He is cool, calm and best of all witty; even when it's not always the best time or situation to be witty. Liu delivers a decent performance as the cute and adorable girl next door (literally) who talks to much. Besides, you put that plaid, school-girl dress on any woman with great legs and I'm hooked. Together, they work well.

      The one thing that may pain viewers is the slight ubsurdity of everything. The dialogue, although snappy and witty, is completely over the top and obviously scripted. It's all so completely unbelievable that people would talk this way. Also, the style and settings are ridiculously cool. The mob boss' offices; the stylish restaurant; the different, interesting wallpapers that are on every single apartment or room in the entire film; all give this film an odd feeling of implausibility. But you know what? That's a big part of what I liked about this movie. Of course it's not real! But I like to see characters make fun of someone who's obviously got the upper hand on them, with a hip quip; or the guy who knows exactly the smooth and funny thing to say to a lady at just the right time. I like the groovy styles of the rooms and settings. All of this helps to pull me into the story that is already ridiculous and over the top.

      The only thing that pained me was the last twenty minutes or so, where everything was explained to me. Some stuff needs an explanation, some things only need a quick word or glance or an event to explain it. Remember "The Sixth Sense?" The image of the wedding ring falling to the floor and the entire theater all goes..."Oooooh," that is what I like. What I do not like, is when we are given a long drawn out explanation of everything that has happened and why and how and where the characters come from, etc. That insults my intelligence. By the end, you've got it figured out, you don't need it spoon fed to you like a child. But I guess that's just me griping about something trivial.

      Overall a great Friday night film. A fast paced crime/murder/noir/ thriller with a touch of farce and comedy. In fact, several classic films are mentioned directly in the film by the characters. Various Bond films and North by Northwest included. Although some may not find it quite as clever as I did, I think everyone can enjoy Slevin if they just go with it. Trying to expose every obvious weakness in the plot or the characters, diffuses the potential for real enjoyment of a good movie. I think most of you can bet high on "Lucky Number Slevin."

Links: - full cast and crew
Official site