Lucky Number Slevin – Review

Film: Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci

Directed by: Paul McGuigan 

Written by: Jason Smilovic

Music by: J. Ralph

Running Time: 110 minutes

Rating: R

I remember hearing a little bit about Lucky Number Slevin when it came out, but back then (in 2006), my movie-watching passion was still in its early evolutionary stages and as such, I never saw this film. It came up in my Netflix queue and I had time to watch it on a flight back east from LA (fancy that!); as an aside, I will be there on a permanent basis in a couple of weeks, and this trip saw me secure a place to live (nice!).

To get back on point, I went into Lucky Number Slevin expecting an entertaining — but unspectacular — movie. Given that Josh Hartnett played the main character (nothing against him; he’s not bad or anything, but he’s not an incredibly memorable actor either) and that the movie elicited a tepid critical response, I didn’t have extremely high expectations. Nevertheless, I wanted to watch it because it sounded interesting enough (a neo-noir witty crime thriller) and because a friend of mine had been urging me to see it.

In a mild surprise, the movie actually exceeded my expectations somewhat. It wasn’t perfect, but it was solid entertainment for its entire 110-minute duration. The film is about a man named Slevin (Hartnett) who, while staying at his friend’s apartment, becomes the victim of an apparent case of mistaken identity. As such, he finds himself in the middle of an unimaginable predicament involving two rival crime bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley), a mysterious hitman (Bruce Willis), a curious neighbor (Lucy Liu), a hard-nosed cop (Stanley Tucci), and deals for murder and tens of thousands of dollars.

Lucky Number Slevin is full of twists and turns, a couple of which I was able to guess. But there was also a handful that I did not see coming. Director Paul McGuigan and writer Jason Smilovic effectively keep our attention by introducing numerous elements that make us scratch our heads but simultaneously leave us thirsting for more knowledge of how everything fits. Add to that the stylized violence and clever dialogue, and you have a pretty slick action thriller.

My one main complaint with Lucky Number Slevin is that despite its entertaining style, it did not feel completely original. I felt like it was trying too hard to mimic the qualities of Quentin Tarantino’s films, which have always been about style more so than substance (but with a style so effective that he has become a modern legend in film-making). Slevin at times seemed like it wanted to be like Pulp Fiction; while the story was presented in a mostly linear fashion (unlike Pulp), the exaggerated blood spattering and quick dialogue felt very much like a tribute to Tarantino rather than a novel approach.

That being said, Smilovic’s script was still quite clever, even if not on a Tarantino level. Additionally, while the plot became somewhat convoluted and created many loose ends mid-way through the film, everything was tied up crisply by the end. Our questions were all answered and seeing everything come together was actually very satisfying (much like the montage of Paul Giamatti’s grand epiphany at the end ofThe Illusionist, except slightly more drawn out).

Hartnett actually supplied adequate charisma in the lead role, and the rest of the acting was solid across the board. It was particularly entertaining to see Morgan Freeman in a role as a villainous gangster. Stanley Tucci — one of today’s great character actors — was also quite good as a determined and often irritated detective.

In the end, while Lucky Number Slevin might not have been terribly original in terms of its style, that aspect made the film entertaining nonetheless, and the story was tied up extremely well by the end. This latter trait was a pleasant surprise given how messy the plot seemed to become as the film went on. Answering all the questions in a crisp and logical way did not seem possible, but Smilovic’s script was able to accomplish that feat.

Tommy D’s Score:





3/4 Tommy Ds

About Tommy D

Clemson and UGA alum with a market research job in LA. And I kind of like movies.

Posted on June 3, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I liked this movie. I may be biased because I usually like everything Bruce Willis does but I thought this movie was very clever and well acted. Gotta love the Kansas City Shuffle. Good review!

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