Friday, December 08, 2006

lucky number slevin

I remember watching the trailer and being excited about seeing Lucky Number Slevin (official site). Then the reviews came out and they were poor. Roger Ebert: 2 stars, Rolling Stone: 2 stars, NYT: D+. At least the expressions of dislike for the film were amusing:

The only winners are the stars, who have fattened their bank accounts, and Tarantino, who again looks like a genius by comparison. LA Daily News

Another drearily sadistic and pointless crime thriller from the excessively in-demand Scottish technician Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1, Wicker Park) [and] from a gabby script by Jason Smilovic, who seems not to know the distinction between a gimmick and an idea LA Weekly

So, I waited for video and then waited some more. I’m happy I picked up the DVD tonight, because I thoroughly enjoyed this stylish, clever neo-noir thriller.

True, it is not the next Usual Suspects, but it is not trying to be. The characters are one-dimensional, and that adds to their charm. Lucy Liu is supposed to be energetic and perky and Josh Hartnett should deliver his lines flat. Everything about the film is highly stylized: the violence, the sets (pay attention to the wallpaper); and, the crime families (the Boss v. the Rabbi) - but in a light rather than dark fashion.

Just after the opening credits, Bruce Willis explains the Kansas City Shuffle, “They look right and you go left.” And, for the next two entertaining hours, that is exactly what happens. There are twist and turns (most foreseeable, some not) and constant amusement.

It may borrow from North by Northwest with its mistaken identity plot, but where Hitchcock was creating spine-tingling suspense, Slevin director Paul McGuigan is having fun. Unlike the critics referenced above, an intelligent viewer with appropriate expectations should not feel left out of the party. Approach this with the same attitude you first watched Ocean’s Eleven and you’ll have quite a bit of fun too.

Joining Hartnett, Liu and Willis in the cast are Stanley Tucci, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley and Danny Aiello.

Bonus tip: don’t miss the alternate ending on the DVD. The other deleted scenes can be skipped.
Bonus link: the Shmoo