Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

Dir. Paul McGuigan
Starring: Josh Harnett, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, etc.

I know Joel thought this was just OK—maybe even a little less than OK–but I thought this was a good, entertaining flick. And I think most of you would agree. Marc and Don would be at the top of my list of people I’d recommend this to, but I think everyone would enjoy this at least mildy. A good dvd rental.

The only critical quotes listed on the dvd box called this one of the best crime thrillers in years, combining the best elements of Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects and The Professional. That would make a great film, if accurate, but as I was driving home with the dvd I realized the “critic” saying this was Shawn Edwards. Who’s that, you say? Well, Mr. Edwards is from a local Fox-TV affiliate in Kansas City (maybe he’s not even a critic). The fact that his quotes are the only ones used should have and would have normally dissuaded me from seeing this, as I have a rule about the quotes movie companies print to promote films: focus on the source of the quote before looking at the actual quote. If the source is reputable, then you read the quote; if it’s not, don’t bother reading the quote; if the only quote(s) are from unknown critics, then the movie sucks. Well, this film is the exception to the rule.

The title and cover (with multiple characters) also don’t make this look promising. It seems like a Pulp Fiction clones—i.e. culturally hip, yet violent. Joel’s lukewarm review, only supported my expectations, but I rented this because I was desperate for an action film. Undoubtedly, I liked this more because my expectations weren’t high, but I think most of you will enjoy this (as long as your expectations aren’t too high). This is a solid script—intricate, witty and a satisfying resolution–good casting (with one exception; more on that later) and good execution of that script. I’d say it was one of the better crime films that I’ve seen in a long time.

The plot is intricate, and I don’t want to reveal too much. There are two crime bosses, former partners, now turned enemies. Harnett’s character is mistaken as the guy for a guy who owes money to both bosses and must find a way to repay them or lose his life.

One of the big reasons this movie worked for me was the performances of Josh Harnett and Lucy Liu. If you didn’t like Harnett in this (which Joel didn’t, finding him too much of a punk), then I think it would be a little difficult like this. I found him likable enough—especially his understated humor. His quiet approach was a nice contrast to Liu’s zaniness. I also thought they had nice chemistry in the film—enough to make me root for them.

The other actors are adequate, but perhaps a bit disappointing given that I expect more from Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. A part of me thinks the filmmakers should have cast others. I definitely think they should have got someone else for the Bruce Willis role. I just don’t understand why Hollywood thinks this guy is a good silent tough guy. He’s not. He and Kurt Russell are similar: Hollywood feels like they can do the silent tough guy, but they’re both better at tough guys with a comic side. Back to what I liked. I think the script was pretty solid, particularly the way all the pieces came together and resolved itself at the end. I don’t know if I’d say this film takes the best elements of Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects and The Professional, but it does have similar elements, and while it may not be as good as those films, it’s still an entertaining film, one that I’d say fell through the cracks.

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