You know, we used to try to come up with some semblance of a coherent review of at least one of the week’s indie releases to post on the IFC News site, but we’ve been inconsistent enough about it that we’ve decided for the time being to just post blurbier half thought-out ramblings here, where we’ve establish such a tradition of, at best, half-thinking.
"Lucky Number Slevin" isn’t completely awful â€” it’s the kind of film that will be perfectly acceptable entertainment someday on Saturday afternoon TV. It’s the ideal length, with commercials, to fill two hours, after being trimmed slightly for content, and if you get up to make yourself some spaghetti halfway through, the tonal shift that takes place with the midpoint plot twist around which the film was clearly conceived may not even seem that jarring.
Director Paul McGuigan seems to be gearing his career around being the poor man’s pre-Madonna Guy Ritchie, who himself is a bit of the poor man’s Quentin Tarantino. All of this cinematic poverty apparently lands one with an embarrassingly good supporting cast (Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman, and Bruce Willis, who’s been aging into a great character actor) and an obligation to rest a film on the yet-unproven charms of Josh Hartnett, who plays the titular Slevin, a feckless young man who apparently stumbles into a lot of trouble with two local gangsters due to a case of mistaken identity. Lucy Liu bubbles in as the relentlessly cheery girl next door ("Didn’t I tell you? I’m a coroner!" she coos at one point to ensure her future plot-involvement). Characters have names like "The Rabbi" and "The Boss" and "The Fairy." There is stylishness. There are rambling speeches about pop culture, most notably one from Morgan Freeman about the Shmoo which probably had some metaphorical meaning relevant to what was happening in the film at the time, but for the life of us we can’t remember what that was.
The only noteworthy thing about "Lucky Number Slevin" is that, for its first half, Hartnett’s Slevin and Liu’s Lindsey seem extraordinarily unruffled, even exhilarated to find themselves involved in the intrigues of cartoonishly warring crimelords. They cite "Columbo" and Hitchcock films, and delight in pseudo-noir dialogue: "I’ve picked up a pigtail," Slevin informs Lindsey, and then has to explain that he means the cops are following him. "Oh, a pigtail. Cute," she allows. The two have a vague Nick and Nora Charles air to their accelerated romance, which, if odd, is also somewhat charming, at least until the big reveal and the increasing body count make the whole thing dumb and distasteful.
+ Lucky Number Slevin (official site)