Lucky Number Slevin:
In the case of Slevin, vengeance is sweet indeed.
I will start out by saying that Lucky Number Slevin is about revenge; on the surface, and at the heart of it. I make mention of both because things are not what they appear to be. Some of the negative responses I have heard regarding this film are, in part, because of the nature of it. If you are a fan of noir and hard-boiled cinema and fiction, you are in for a treat.
Josh Hartnett plays Slevin, a young man that seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When he is found in the apartment of his pal Nick Fisher, a couple of hoods assume he is Nick. They take him to see the Boss (played with charm by Morgan Freeman). It seems Mr. Fisher owes the Boss a lot of money. This debt can be wiped clean if Slevin/Nick does one little favor: Kill a man. The Boss gives Slevin the night to think about it.
No sooner has he gotten back to Nick’s place, when two more hoods (this time, Hassidic Jews) pick Slevin up to see another crime lord, this one known as the Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley). Why is he called the Rabbi? …Because he is one. It seems Mr. Fisher owes the Rabbi a fair amount of money. The Rabbi wants it.
One more thing…the man that Slevin is supposed to kill is the Rabbi’s son. It seems there is a long standing grudge between the Boss and the Rabbi. Recently, the Boss’s son was killed and the Boss, convinced the Rabbi was behind it, believes in an eye for an eye.
So the Boss’s men are watching Slevin, the Rabbi’s men are watching Slevin, and the police (headed up by Stanley Tucci) are watching him because they want to know what he is doing meeting with these other men.
On Slevin’s side is Nick’s neighbor Lindsey, played with gusto by Lucy Liu. She has some of the best lines of the movie. One in particular is when she asks Slevin that if he is still alive when she gets off work, would he like to go to dinner?
Then there is Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis), a world class assassin that is in town. He has not taken a job in New York for two decades; why is he there now?
So now you have the players, you must see the movie to see who is doing what and why.
Overall the film plays very well. It is clever without going overboard. In the end, everything makes sense without feeling convoluted. Those that pay close attention will understand everything. There was only one thing I did not see coming (but perhaps I should have).
The cast is fantastic; but what can you expect with Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Danny Aiello, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, Josh Harnett and Lucy Liu? Everybody does an amazing job. The one performance might not be quite as revelatory is that of Bruce Willis, simply because we have seen him in this kind of role before.
I am going to wrap this up by mentioning something that I already said in regards to Brick. This is a clever film that is great because of fine acting and a damn good script. We should all see it if only to send a message to Hollywood that there is still a market for good films that have substance as well as style.