In spite of the obvious effort and hard work in the pre-production and production phases, Lucky Number Slevin asks its audience to absorb too many subplots. Having more characters than logically and practically necessary threatens to simply confuse and detach the audience from a potentially engrossing film.
A case of fake identity places Slevin (Josh Hartnett) between two competing crime bosses, the Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and the Boss (Morgan Freeman). After a gambling fiasco many years earlier, Slevin steps into the shoes of another person in order to avenge the death of his parents and plot his own assassination. Assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) both follow Slevin, putting him in a situation where he must devise his own plot to kill.
At the heart of Lucky Number Slevin is a convoluted and needlessly complicated plot. For the first act, the film introduces the lead characters and establishes what seems to be a serious and violent tone. About halfway through the second act, the tone becomes somewhat comic and the audience does not get any particular cue about the intention of director Paul McGuigan ˆ comedy, thriller, action.
Also, too many characters begin to populate the story and it overheats its combustible mixture of action, fast-paced editing and innovative gangster maneuvering. A promising storyline and A-list acting place the film in potentially creative "thriller" category but McGuigan (Wicker Park) cannot distinguish between genuine twists and ones that simply confuse the audience.
Many films can deliver persuasive and organic twists in order to keep the stakes high but Slevin indulges in that because McGuigan felt that such unpredictability would be his film‚s asset. Too many subplots and reliance on calculated confusion lose the audience. Also, the film‚s choice of actors was not the best.
As usual, Kingsley towers in his performance as the Rabbi. His sinister smile and dominating screen presence are enough sometimes to shift the entire tone to one of contained evil and untethered confidence; unlike Freeman, who does not seem to be able to depart from his largely friendly, approachable image. The contrast between the two does not help because no tension or heightened conflict emerges. They are not two characters who try to compete against each other; the result is understated and undeveloped confrontation.
Hartnett himself delivers funny one-liners with enough ability to bring quick laughs but he does not show the panache or the wicked presence that his character demands. Appearing violent and ruthless is not his niche yet and he is still in the young adult/teen "heartthrob" territory.
Overall, the film derails under its many contrived twists and does not adhere to its promising tone at the beginning. The opening sequences are genuine and curious, but the filmmakers replaced organic twists with confusion and narrative mayhem.
Film: Movie Reviews [Lucky Number Slevin]
Lucky Number Slevin
By Hussam Kanaan
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Article posted on 4/4/2006
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