Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is already having a pretty bad day – he found his girlfriend in bed with another man, lost his job and got mugged, but when two thugs turn up at his friend Nick’s apartment and believe him to be the man they’re looking for, he finds its going to get a hell of a lot worse. As it turns out, Nick owes a lot of money to the two biggest crime lords in the city. They want it back, and they don’t care much who pays it. However, one rival – The Boss (Morgan Freeman) – offers Slevin a deal to kill his opponent, The Rabbi’s (Sir Ben Kingsley) son to avenge the murder of his own boy. Meanwhile, contract killer Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis) seems to be collaborating with both sides, whilst Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) presses Slevin for information on the gang war. However, to cut a long story short, in the end, it seems revenge is a dish best served cold.
Lucky Number Slevin is a crime thriller that some would describe as ‘Tarantino-esque’. I sort of can and can’t see where the comparisons have been drawn. I mean, I can pick out details of the storylines, but features and trademarks of a classic Tarantino flick I cannot. For example, there is the tale of revenge that was present in Kill Bill, and the big reveal at the end was quite a rundown of events as was seen in Jackie Brown, but there were no fancy camera shots, little excessive violence and possibly a lack of the quality we’ve come to expect from the lovely Quentin. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the film and I don’t regret watching it, but I certainly don’t think that it was of the level of greatness to be making claims of its ‘Tarantino-ness’.
A big plus point for me though was the cast. There was, of course, Hartnett, Freeman, Kinglsey, Tucci, and Willis joined by Lucy Liu which made for at least half a film. Hartnett spent a lot of the film in a towel, which I found I had no problem. Liu was a very sweet character who had watched so much Columbo she was almost a fully-qualified P.I. I’m a strong believer that Freeman’s presence makes everything better, and Kingsley also brought a touch of magic. Tucci tends to be great at whatever he plays, and we all know I love Willis, so I rather enjoyed all of the main performances.
One thing I did have a problem with, and yes, I know it was pretty crucial to how the storyline played out, was the back story at the beginning – the Kansas City Shuffle sequence. That initial ten minutes was very hard to follow, and for me, this was an issue as I thought it might possibly have set the tone for the rest of the film. Had this have been the case, I would have turned the thing off shortly after because half an hour in I wouldn’t have known if I was coming or going. I just thought that it tried too hard to draw the audience in.
Overall, if you like your crime thrillers, or are a fan of a particular member of the cast, you might be interested in taking a look at Lucky Number Slevin. However, if there’s nothing that you would personally want to invest in, I’ll tell you now you’re not missing out on a fat lot.