Lucky Number Slevin

The minute that goons of The Boss (Morgan Freeman, An Unfinished Life, War of the Worlds) mistakes Slevin (Josh Hartnett (Sin City, Wicker Park) for Nick Fisher, everybody watching knows that Slevin has a secret that he's not telling. Yes, he isn't Nick Fisher, but who is he? Lucky Number Slevin is the type of film that thinks it's much more clever than it actually is. Everybody is trying to play everybody else. That includes Slevin and two warring crime bosses, and director Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park, The Reckoning) and the audience. There is nothing wrong with going for a ride at the movies. However, McGuigan and screenwriter Jason Smilovic make it too obvious that they are trying to trick the audience. What's the point when it's so blatant for everybody to see?

The main issue lies with the Slevin character. He went to visit his friend Fisher, who apparently owes a lot of money to a lot of people. Somebody mugged him the day before, leaving him with a broken nose. Two large goons kidnap him, and The Boss forces him to do some work for him. So how come Slevin doesn't protest more? He goes along with The Boss' plan, then meets up with The Boss' rival The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley, BloodRayne, Oliver Twist). Here, Smilovic's screenplay becomes densely convoluted. But not in an interesting manner.

Slevin flirts with his attractive neighbor Lindsey (Lucy Liu, Domino, Kill Bill Vol. 1). Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis, 16 Blocks, Sin City), a stoic assassin who keeps talking about something called "the Kansas City Shuffle" keeps appearing and staring bug-eyed at everything. Brikowski (Stanley Tucci, Robots, Shall We Dance), a cop who is trying to bust both The Boss and The Rabbi, is thoroughly confused by the entrance of Slevin, whom nobody knows. Confusion is the norm, as McGuigan and Smilovic soon lose everybody.

It doesn't matter what happens. It's obvious that Slevin is up to something, and it's up to the viewer to wait out the film, which has so much going on that it becomes dull. McGuigan does try to make everything a bit stylish, but this amounts to giving the actors overly burdensome dialogue. Along with the story structure, this gives McGuigan's film a sense of artificiality that the characters cannot overcome. At no time does Lucky Number Slevin's magic work on the viewer. The film feels like a bad attempt to clone Tarantino and Elmore - it has all the elements correct, but none of the cleverness. Instead, there's a lot of random violence and the constant image of Smilovic patting himself on the back for a job well done. Instead of trying Lucky Number Slevin, make the effort to look for Brick, another dense crime drama that tries and succeeds at something new.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, sexuality, and language.

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