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Lucky Number Slevin - Review

Lucky Number Slevin

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Of; Feature Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Trailer.

A TERRIFIC cast helps to compensate for many of the shortcomings in Lucky Number Slevin, a hip new thriller that thinks it’s far more clever than it really is.

Taking its cue from the likes of The Usual Suspects (for intelligence) and Sin City (for violence), Paul McGuigan’s film fails to reach the genre-defining heights set by either – yet remains a guilty pleasure because of the strength of its cast.

Aside from Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu, the film boasts a supporting cast that includes Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley and Stanley Tucci, as well as the odd cameo from the likes of Robert Forster.

Proceedings kicks off in suitably mysterious fashion with several murders that are executed in sharp, cynical style.

Who these victims are and how they are connected doesn’t become clear for some time.

Caught in the crossfire, however, is Hartnett’s carefree Slevin Kelevra, a man in the wrong place at the wrong time who is about to have a very bad day.

Having lost his job and caught his girlfriend in the act of cheating, Slevin ups sticks and heads to see his friend, Nick Fisher, only to be mugged en route, losing his wallet.

When Fisher is also missing, Slevin decides to hang around and wait for his return, whereupon he meets Liu’s kooky next door neighbour, Lindsey, who decides that Nick has disappeared and they should investigate.

Before they can begin to contemplate this, however, Slevin is ‘escorted’ to the homes of two rival crime bosses who mistake him for Nick and demand the money he owes. Yet with no way of proving his real identity, the unflappable Slevin must figure out a way of escaping his tricky predicament and staying alive in the process.

As intriguing as the premise sounds, there are times – especially early on – when Lucky Number Slevin feels a little too smug and convoluted for its own good.

The film revels in its cleverness to such an extent that it runs the risk of alienating the audience.

But as things start to become clear, viewers may begin to understand why McGuigan was able to attract such a first-class cast.

The result is a flawed but intriguing film that succeeds in holding your attention with a number of fine set pieces and some gleefully relaxed performances.

Freeman, in particular, seems to have fun playing one of the villains for a change, while Willis provides an enigmatic presence as a hitman and Tucci is as reliable as ever as a cop. Liu, too, is excellent as Slevin’s sweet-natured girlfriend in what is a complete role-reversal of some of her more kinky femme-fatale turns.

Unfortunately, the plot – based on a screenplay by Jason Smilovic – isn’t as bullet-proof as it thinks it is and ultimately lacks the ingenuity of the best examples in its genre.

Audiences may also tire of the early smugness, which is exemplified by Hartnett’s lead character.

But for those willing to go the distance, the film provides a suitably satisfying finale that doesn’t waste either the time of its cast or its viewers.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 2hrs