Wednesday, September 13, 2006

LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN

Lucky Number SlevinJosh Hartnett Directed by Paul McGuigan
Starring Josh Hartnett
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!

When Slevin (Josh Hartnett, BLACK HAWK DOWN) arrives in New York to visit an old buddy, he quickly runs into trouble. First he gets mugged. Then he arrives at Nick’s house (his friend’s) to find him not at home. Slevin makes himself comfortable but is soon interrupted by Lindsey (a very perky and fun Lucy Liu, KILL BILL), Nick’s neighbor. They are instantly attracted to each other and the humorous sparks fly as they verbally joust with one another. Lindsey notices his battered nose (mugged?) and Slevin tells her what a terrible day he’s having, which endears him even more to her.

Shortly after Lindsey leaves, two thugs arrive and mistake him for Nick. They don’t believe him when he tells them his name is Slevin and drag him out of the apartment clothed only in a bath towel. They take him to "The Boss" (
Morgan Freeman, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) where he’s told that Nick (i.e., him) owes a lot of money but can work it off by killing one man: the son of his biggest enemy, The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley, GANDHI).

Soon after agreeing to do this, Slevin is then picked up by The Rabbi’s thugs and told by him that he owes The Rabbi money, too, but can work it off by killing The Boss. Caught between the disbelief of two mob bosses about who Slevin really is, he’s forced to make a decision. Or is he?

At the beginning of the film we’re introduced to a poor family man with a gambling problem. He bets a lot of money on a losing horse and soon he and his family are "rubbed out". And who killed the family? Yep. The Boss and The Rabbi before they became enemies.
Bruce Willis (DIE HARD) plays Mr. Goodkat, a heartless assassin who eliminates the young boy of the losing gambler with a single bullet to the head. Or did he?

Convoluted stories are often so complex that they lose cohesion and I was afraid that this might happen with LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN. Thankfully it didn’t. The complexity is there and subtle, but handled with expert care by Aussie director Paul McGuigan. The flashbacks are impeccably pulled off as are the many action sequences. The fact that it all came together so nicely in the end made the entire movie watching experience effortless. Although I did try and figure out what was happening, there were so many well executed twists and turns that I was continually surprised and delighted.

We always here the words "ensemble cast" when certain films come out with a few favorite actors sprinkled here and there, but this time the title is well deserved. Sir Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, Danny Aiello, Kevin Chamberlin and a smattering of other notables round out this pristine cast.

Comparisons between Tarantino’s directorial style and Mr. McGuigan’s have been made, but Paul McGuigan’s methods, I think, are more subtle in tone but direct in execution (I hope that makes sense!).

The other notable point in the film was location. The filming of the sets held a consistent circular theme to them, including wallpaper, stairways, and cups. This theme is well deserved, as a circle has no beginning and no end.

Click here for the Lucky Number Slevin movie trailer!

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