A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
It is surprising beyond belief that I had never heard of this film given it’s endless ensemble of talent. Having just seen the advertising poster for “Lucky Number Slevin” (and no, it’s not a typo), I realised I have in fact heard of the film, although subconsciously so.
My year 10 media editing room had the same poster pinned up on the wall and I explicitly remember looking at it on a regular basis. I didn’t register what the title was, all I could think was “Why are Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kingsley in such a crappy looking action movie?”.
Having just seen the film some 5 years later, I can happily say that I was wrong on almost all accounts. Sure, the poster is tacky and a little cliche, but this film is a wonderful example of screenwriting and suspense – film noir is still alive and well!
In a ‘Lebowski-esque’ tale of mistaken identity, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Harnett), a wise-cracking, confident and smart-ass young man is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Getting caught up in the unflattering world of Mafia war, Slevin finds himself becoming a messenger in a “Westside Story/Romeo & Juliet” rivalry between two opposing Mafia bosses played by Sir Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman. He is assigned a task in order to eradicate the debt he supposedly owes, all the while dealing with a suspicious but beautiful neighbour played by Lucy Liu.
If you haven’t got the point, there’s a lot going on in “Lucky Number Slevin”, and I haven’t even mentioned Bruce Willis!
“Lucky Numbr Slevin” is a slick, cool and fluid picture with some marvellous dialogue sprinkled throughout, much like a less-stylised “Sin City” affair. There are fantastic performances within the film, however the primary candidates (Willis, Freeman & Kingsley) tend to appear as ‘themselves’ at various points, but it’s not too much of an issue.
Josh Hartnett is at his very best as Slevin – the character was made for him and he does anything but disappoint. There is a tie-in with the police force, lead by the ever watchful Stanley Tucci with the help of Peter Outerbridge which adds a “Usual Suspects” vibe into the mix.
Ultimately, “Lucky Number Slevin” is a mixing pot of various stories and films that combine and create something rather fantastic.
The primary issue I have with the film is a non-issue when it comes down to it. I feel the entire third act is purely a string of exposition that ties up every loose end within the narrative. This is a fantastic thing most of the time; the way “The Usual Suspects” concludes is something extraordinary, and the revelations within that are precise and surprising.
“Lucky Number Slevin” has those moments regularly, often with similar effect, however upon reflection it feels as though the narrative is just a bit too convoluted and scattered that when everything is ‘solved’, it takes a good third of the film to get there.
Open-endedness is not a crime, especially in a solid thriller/noir. Sometimes leaving things open to interpretation or speculation is a good thing; I would be interested to see how the experience would be if a few mysteries were left unsolved – it may have changed my perspective of the film completely.
Above all, “Lucky Number Slevin” is concrete evidence that there are hidden gems right under our noses when it comes to lesser-known, quality pictures. This would definitely fit the category of an ‘underrated film’ as I for one had previously never heard of it, and I’m assuming a fair few others haven’t either.
It has reignited my faith in modern crime thrillers (even though it wasn’t ever completely lost) as well as made me very excited for 2015’s “Victor Frankenstein”, also directed by Paul McGuigan.
James McAvoy as Victor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor? Yes Please!