Lucky Number Slevin

A smart movie is a good thing, but a movie that works too hard at being clever can collapse under its own pretension. This is the fate of Lucky Number Slevin, a crime drama that reminds us constantly how witty it is from the title to the ending.

The movie opens with the killer Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis) telling someone at an airport a story of a family wiped out by mobsters and the unpredictable "Kansas City shuffle" where the unexpected happens -- then Goodkat kills his listener.

From there we meet Slevin (Josh Hartness), who's having the day from hell. Slevin lost his job and his apartment and found his girlfriend cheating on him in one afternoon. He's invited to stay at the apartment of his friend Nick Fisher (Sam Jaeger), and on the way Slevin is mugged and loses his wallet. Nick's not at home, and things look like they're improving when Slevin has a "meet cute" with neighbor Lindsey (Lucy Liu) stopping by when Slevin's wearing nothing but a towel. Then the other visitors come.

Two mobsters think Slevin is Nick (remember, Slevin's wallet was stolen) and bring him (still in towel) to the Boss (Morgan Freeman), who thinks Slevin is Nick and wants Slevin to repay "his" debt to the Boss by killing the son of a rival mob boss called the Rabbi. After Slevin is brought back to the apartment, he's picked up by two more mobsters, who bring him to the Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). The Rabbi wants the thousands of dollars Nick owes him in two days, or Slevin will be killed.

From there, things get complicated. Lindsey decided to play amateur sleuth and find out where Nick is. Slevin is caught between the two investigators, plus watched by Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) who's invesstigating the Boss and the Rabbi. The Boss and the Rabbi live in massive apartment buildings across the street from each other, and Mr. Goodkat shows up apparently working for both of them. And Slevin has "ataraxia," a condition that leaves him free from anxiety or worry and lets him drift back and forth as everyone seems to be after him.

The complexity of Lucky Number Slevin could have been forgiven with a dash of realism somewhere. Alas, that isn't to be found here. Virtually every bit of dialogue is so clever it's artificial, and the potentially great cast sounds like it's reading an amateur play. None of the characters are particularly interesting, and considering the immense acting talent here it's a crime for it to go to waste. By the time the movie's convolutions are resolved, you won't care one way or another.

I was unlucky enough to see Lucky Number Slevin. Hopefully you won't be.

Overall grade: D

Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

digitaldoc said...

I was unlucky enough to see this film a while ago, and I agree completely that it's awful. I can't believe that anyone could have thought that screenplay would have been worth making. Total waste of plenty of talented actors.