Lucky Number Slevin

Alternate Title: Lucky # Slevin
Director: Paul McGuigan

In this ultra-violent, self-consciously hip blend of old school film and neo-noir, director and Scottish native Paul McGuigan reunites with his Wicker Park leading man, Josh Hartnett in telling the story of an unlucky twenty-something who gets mistaken for someone else (think Hitchcock) only to find himself embroiled in a heated war between two rival crime families headed up by Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. Despite a truly brutal slam-bang opener of violence galore with the introduction of way too many characters and enough confusion to make you scratch your head in frustration, screenwriter Jason Smilovic’s first feature screenplay is clever and funny enough to keep you intrigued with Mamet-inspired dialogue, the inclusion of screenplay terms (see Bruce Willis talk about inciting incidents) and direct cinematic references guaranteed to amuse film buffs. Lucy Liu provides the sole female support as Jarnett’s ultra-curious new neighbor who moonlights as an amateur Nancy Drew in between her shifts at the morgue. Add Stanley Tucci, Robert Forester, and of course, Bruce Willis who, in a fascinatingly understated role, manages to secure his on-screen coolness once again in the best way since his turn in Bandits. Although FOX-TV Kansas City’s Shawn Edwards stated that “if you take the best parts of Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, and The Professional, what you get is Lucky # Slevin,” I must say that it isn’t quite that superlative-worthy but it’s a rockin’ good time nonetheless for fans of crime writer Elmore Leonard. I wondered why it sounded so Leonard-inspired until, after doing an IMDB search on the writer, learned that Smilovic was one of the writers and co-executive producers of the excellent short-lived Karen Sisco television series starring Carlo Gugino, tackling on the role of Elmore Leonard’s sexiest federal marshal, most famously brought to life by Jennifer Lopez in Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight.