Dec 102006
 

Lucky Number SlevenA case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city’s most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.

Directed by
Paul McGuigan

Genres
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast
Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Michael Rubenfeld, Peter Outerbridge, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Chamberlin, Dorian Missick, Mykelti Williamson, Scott Gibson, Daniel Kash, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Sam Jaeger

I just really do not recall seeing the trailers for this movie, and we certainly didn’t watch it at the theater. However, we rented this movie last weekend. I didn’t get around to watching it until Thursday night. Lay had watched it the night before, and had really liked it.

Lucky Number Slevin – no, that’s not a typo – will easily be dismissed as Tarantino-esq. Starring Josh Hartnett as the unlucky title character, the film has more twists and turns than a high-tech roller-coaster, but it’s just as much fun.

Directed with breakneck technique by Paul McGuigan from a clever though highly implausible script by Jason Slimovic, the film is cast, with one minor exception, impeccably. It marks the first role that justifies Josh Hartnett’s hype, and bestows Lucy Liu the most normal – and incandescent – part of her career. It’s a bonus that they have palpable on-screen chemistry, as well as great foils in the guise of Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman (though Ben Kingsley’s high-strung performance as The Rabbi is a miscalculation). The film itself is stylized – written in high gumshoe/screwball mode, with a guided tour of ugly wallpapers throughout history as part of its hard-boiled milieu – though the actors’ convictions root the topsy-turvy narrative in recognizable human terrain.

At its best, Lucky Number Slevin has the feel of a minor John Huston caper directed, with prankish glee, by Brian DePalma. It’s a blood-revenge thriller with no depth, though there are reservoirs of feeling in Hartnett’s and Liu’s performances, as well as wit. Liu seems to the screwball manor born. And Hartnett prances around for nearly 30 minutes of screen time in nothing more than a long purple towel and a quizzical expression. He’s such a game actor that his performance is both a put-on and homage to the long line of Macguffins in film noir. With, of course, a twist.

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