Original Review Date: 4/14/2006
Before seeing Lucky Number Slevin, I read a review for this film that said that it was the film you would get if Quentin Tarantino had directed a film written by Alfred Hitchcock. After watching the film and closely listening to the dialog, truer words could not have been written about Paul McGuigan’s film. The only other films that have come out in the last few years with such entertaining and well written dialog are Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, written and directed by Shane Black and Frank Miller’s Sin City.
Because of the lackluster, average and disquietingly deceptive television commercials and accompanying trailer for Lucky Number Slevin, a perspective viewer of this film is misled into believing that Slevin is trite and derivative. This film is neither of the two but rather a bloody, entertaining and intriguing film, much like Wayne Kramer’s Running Scared. Where Kramer’s film stumbled in continuity and multiple endings, McGuigan’s film succeeds with a more surprising narrative and a well rounded ending.
If there is one thing that carries this film, it is what the characters have to say, especially Morgan Freeman (The Boss) and Sir Ben Kingsley’s (The Rabbi) characters. Both of them play mob bosses that hate each other for reasons that are eventually made clear. Bookies that work for both crime organizations are killed and an assassin that has not been to New York in twenty years is called in to remedy the escalating situation. That stern and cold assassin, Mr. Goodkat, is played by Bruce Willis, who previously played a $60 million dollar assassin in 1997’s The Jackal. Willis truly acts in this film; you see the intensity of his character through his eyes when he looks at a person. Josh Hartnett’s Slevin is whom everyone in Lucky Number Slevin mistakes for someone else throughout the majority of the film. This is where Alfred Hitchcock’s influence comes firmly into play.
Two characters in Lucky Number Slevin eventually have a discussion about Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and how that film parallels Slevin’s current situation. McGuigan’s film illustrates where it’s roots come from as one of these two characters elaborates on North by Northwest’s plot and points out that when you call something a horse long enough, it becomes a horse, whether its still what it originally was or not. If you have seen North by Northwest, you know what is being alluded to by this discussion and the resultant statement.
Lucky Number Slevin is an entertaining film whose theatrical performance was hamstrung from the beginning by moronic marketing. It is virtually guaranteed high volumes of DVD rentals and sales because no one will see it in theater. This is a shame because everyone will enjoy seeing Willis and company perform The Kansas City Shuffle.