I was once asked to explain the secrets behind my prowess when it came to the matter of wooing over members of the opposite gender. I know you may ask yourself why someone would ever need to know such information, but the question was one that was honest. I gave the very simple explanation that in a relationship I have always been slow to start, but I have the unique ability to finish well. In seeing Lucky Number Slevin, the latest offering from the Weinstien Company, I feel that I have found a film that parallels my ways with the ladies.
At first sight this film may seem like your average murder comedy, falling in line with the likes of The Whole Nine Yards or even The Whole Ten Yards. This sentiment is enhanced by the fact that this film stars Bruce Willis as a legendary contract killer with a hidden agenda. Hmm, I think we have seen this before, eh? Willis’ character, known as Goodkat, is a man with a secretive plan that includes the use of a young guy named Nick Fisher, played by Josh Hartnett. The only problem is that Hartnett’s character is not actually Nick Fisher, he is Slevin. And despite the mistaken identity, being in the wrong place at the wrong time lands Slevin in the middle of an impending gang war between two very old foes, played by Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kingsley. He soon finds out that not only are tensions high between the two very powerful men, but also that the mysterious Nick Fisher is in debt deep to both sides, leading to him being charged with the most dangerous tasks of redemption: murder. As if to say that being forced into being a contract killer isn’t enough, Slevin is sidetracked by the energetic and alluring girl next door Lindsey, played by Lucy Lu. And with the chips all stacked against him, the unshaken Slevin is forced into a path that leaves a lot of blood and a significant dose of laughter along the way.
Slevin’s path, to say the least, is littered with absolutely wonderful performances from an all-star cast. Willis is as he always is, the epitome of the creepy contract killer with a little bit of a heart; and Hartnett brings to the character of Slevin his usual dosage of sarcasm, charisma and charm. But the real show stoppers are the performances from the men that play the really bad guys. Morgan Freeman is used to being the good cop or the hero, so the chance to play a very cold-hearted mob boss must have come as a breath of fresh air, a factor which shines through in his sensational performance. And not to mention Ben Kingsley; It must be said that Ben Kingsley is so British that he is even afforded the honor of being known as Sir Ben Kingsley. That is what makes the fact that he plays a Jewish mob boss known as The Rabbi so ironic, due to the fact that I don’t think he is really Jewish. He pulls of the accent and the light hearted toughness of a conflicted man of God with precision that can only be delivered by an actor of his caliber.
Rounding out the lot of good performances was that of Lucy Lu, who has been in a relative hiatus since Charlie’s Angels. I must say that I have always enjoyed her as the strong intelligent female to balance out the ditzy antics of her various co-stars over the years (i.e. Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore.) In this film she takes on the role of the mildly eccentric, but absolutely lovable girl next door. Her vivacious performance breathes life into an otherwise boring 1st half of the film.
This brings me to my next point about this flick: the rollercoaster of a quality plot. Here lies a film that struggles to draw you in at first, but then slams you at the end with unpredictable twists, turns and a little bit of gratuitous killing. All the right pieces are in place to set this film apart from your average killer comedy, including a smooth soundtrack, a stellar cast and a pretty damn good twist at the end. And it is those pieces that make this film one of the first truly fun guilty pleasures of the year. I mean, who doesn’t want to see gratuitous killing with a splash of humor?
Great cast, solid action, and did I mention gratuitous killing in a fun manner?
It starts slow, and is hard to get into. But in the end, it pays off.
On the Side:
No Trivia for this one… Just a funny quote:
Slevin: I’m not gay.
Brikowski: I’m a cop.
Slevin: Well, I’m not a robber if you catch my drift.
Final Grade: B+
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
Writing Credits: Jason Smilovic
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong violence, sexuality and language.
Run Time: 109 min.
Studio: The Weinstein Company
By Neil Miller, Editor of Film School Rejects