Lucky Number Slevin
"Lucky Number Slevin" is a film that out-thinks itself.
There's a scene toward the end where a cop played by Robert Forster is on the phone with another copy played by Stanley Tucci. The entire scene is in the movie so that Forster's character can take about two minutes of screen time doing nothing more than explaining exactly how everything the audience has just seen fits together. Frankly, somebody could have handed me an index card as I came in the front door and saved me a lot of time.
Not that Forster was telling me anything I didn't already know. The sad thing is, the mystery of the motivation behind the acts of Slevin (Josh Hartnett) hardly seem a mystery at all and the entire film is predicated on director Paul McGuigan simply leaving things out - not showing us crucial bits of information. And there are a lot of these crucial bits. Characters are shot only to reappear later, whereupon McGuigan gives us a quick flashback to some scene right before the character was shot revealing the bullet proof vest that was put on just before.
The flashback is what kills this film and makes it mostly a simple hack job. It reveals the reason why almost every filmmaker and scriptwriter in the industry worth his salt argues against the use of the flashback. It's a cheat. If it's used too often, it means the director is failing to tell the story properly. Such is the case here.
Being that McGuigan predicates the whole film with an opening scene that took place some 27 years ago, it's pretty obvious throughout the film what's going on because the motivation for Slevin to allow himself to be mistaken for someone else and punched and threatened are pretty limited. He goes to work for The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and is contracted to kill the son of The Boss's rival, The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). While he's doing all this, he falls for his neighbor, Lucy Liu (Lindsey). There's also the matter of an assassin (Bruce Willis), who walks out of the shadows every now and then, the apparent mastermind of the entire plan.
"Lucky Number Slevin" is a film that outthinks itself. Watching the film is like listening to some pseudo-intellectual go off on some topic upon which he obviously has only cursory knowledge. The film takes place in New York, but everything seems a caricature, particularly the crime bosses. Kingsley is particularly annoying, but frankly, Freeman isn't much better and this is one of his worst efforts ever.
I actually fell asleep during "Lucky Number Slevin" and I can't tell you when was the last time that happened. There was zero intrigue as far as I was concerned.
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