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Rated 2.93 stars
by 2529 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Savor the Surprises
by Betty Jo Tucker

Why am I having such a difficult time beginning a review of Lucky Number Slevin? Maybe it’s because I feel like a fly at a nudist camp: there’s so much grabbing my attention I don’t know where to land. A wise-cracking young man mistaken for someone else, two warring crime bosses, a mysterious hit man, a curious lady coroner and a bloody body count that keeps growing -- all deserve to be highlighted, as do the film’s strong performances, artsy cinematography, surprise-filled script and creative editing.         

Commenting on Josh Hartnett and the character he portrays might be the best place to begin. With Slevin, this fine actor has finally been given screen material he deserves. As a New York visitor mistaken for someone else, Hartnett holds this confusing, yet deliciously involving, movie together by making us care about what happens to him. His dark good looks and deep voice are just as appealing here as in his other films, but this time he brings a very complicated character to life by using nuanced facial expressions and a bantering delivery that keeps us, along with Lucy Liu’s perky coroner, wondering why he’s so blasé about everything.

Two crime bosses who hate each other (Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman) think Slevin (Hartnett) is Nick, a man who owes them both a lot of money. They’ve come to this conclusion because their goons find Slevin in Nick’s apartment. And each boss insists Slevin must repay him by killing someone.

Although Kingsley and Freeman play supporting roles as “The Boss” and “The Rabbi” respectively, they make the most of their scenes. When their evil characters face each other at last, it’s a pleasure to watch two great thespians interact with such intensity of feeling. It’s also fun to see Bruce Willis (in a bad toupee) lurking all over the place as the confident “Mr. Goodkat,” a hit man working both sides of the fence. Yes, this is a very violent thriller. By the time it ended, I counted over a dozen bloody killings, so Slevin is definitely not for the squeamish. 

However, moviegoers who enjoy being surprised should savor Lucky Number Slevin. Revealing much more about the plot would spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet, but it won’t hurt to say that all the seemingly unrelated flashbacks, the “Kansas City Shuffle” story, the blended-together scenes and the diverse characters are pulled together at the end in a surprising twist that will make your head spin. The moral to the story? What goes around, comes around -- but it might take as long as twenty years.

(Released by The Weinstein Company and rated “R” for strong violence, sexuality, language and some nudity.)

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