Certain films out there have twist endings that really make your jaw drop. However to be a successful “twist ending” usually the film will be able to perform and amaze on repeat viewings. Lucky Number Slevin isn’t one of them. However it still has quite a lot going for it and a fairly impressive “twist ending” despite being directed by virtually unknown Paul McGuigan and scripted by multiple cancelled show script-writer Jason Smilovic.
A case of mistaken identity couldn’t have put Slevin Colevra (Josh Hartnett) in a worse situation than today. Losing his job, having his apartment condemned, finding out his girlfriend’s infidelity and getting mugged are only the beginning of Slevin’s bad day. While on the way to a friend’s apartment, Slevin is unwillingly caught up between the two top crime bosses in NY as he is ordered to carry out their will against the opposing crime boss in order to lay off the outstanding debt of his friend Nick’s, all the while believing that he is his friend, Nick Fisher. Confusing for Slevin and more so for the audience. But in this clever, witty and layered film, the identities are revealed and someone (in a crooked crime world, no less) isn’t throwing straight dice.
In this weaving story, the plot itself is a slow reveal which tries to lead to the…surprise…”twist ending”. This almost felt like a Guy Ritche film without trying to call attention to it (lest it be considered a knock-off) and the overlapping story lines, the varied and colorful characters and the dialog all worked. The down side to the movie was that it couldn’t continue the pace it started with. It begins very witty and quasi-humorous but then it stops as if they ran out of jokes. Not complaining, but for what seemed to be a stateside interpretation of a Guy Ritchie film, Slevin didn’t know what kind of movie it wanted to be. At times it was really funny but once the humor wore off, it never came back. Also it got intermingled with a forced love story and that just had me scratching my head because it felt almost obligatory for an American film and out of place for this type of genre.
Amidst the unknown writing and directing, this film (a Weinstein production) called in the big guns and is filled soup-to-nuts with major acting talent. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Danny Aiello, Stanley Tucci…WOW is about all I could muster when I read the opening credits. While I have always been a huge fan of Bruce Willis, he actually (almost) got upstaged by Josh Hartnett (of all people), who proved to exhibit some of the best acting in the film. While he was kind of useless in most of his other films I think he really pulled his weight. Hartnett threw around a pretty likeable and confident demeanor while in the presence of true acting legends like Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. Now to me that says a lot. I wish he could find more films or roles of this nature to develop his talents more….but that’s just me.
However, little tangent here, and maybe some of G-S-T readers can help me out, but aside from Ghandi and Schindler’s List, when has Ben Kingsley played an impressive role? Where are the multiple tour de forces that justify his being “knighted“? Because as far as I know, I haven’t seen them. He was better in this than in other films I’ve seen such as Suspect Zero, but I just don’t think he can be compared to the likes of Daniel Day Lewis…especially when he was in BloodRayne (which I haven’t seen but, on principle, any talented actor in a Uwe Boll picture loses major points).
Aside from the acting eye candy, personally, being in the hotel design industry, I loved the art direction and the sets were impressive. A little retro and eccentric for some but I found them enchanting. I’d like to see this level of detail in future films, or check out more films with that Production Designer attached. Sadly the visuals rounds out the extent of the value I found in the film.
Still, all in all Slevin (if you haven’t seen it), is worth a look and I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. But be advised that as I said in the beginning, it doesn’t perform as well on repeat viewings. It loses quite a lot in the second and even more so on the third viewings. I guess that’s what happens when you know the ending to the film…kind of like a magician telling you the secrets to his tricks. Either way this movie has some high points but they don’t keep it from giving me an over all luke-warm feeling at the end. Truth be told, I bought this DVD after seeing it and loved it, but that was then and this is now and luke-warm is as hot as this water’s going to get. Yet I still would watch it if it came on TV while I was channel-surfing…saves me a trip to my DVD shelves anyway.
G-S-T Ruling: 3/5
G-S-T Seal of Approval: PENDING