Pay attention. This is going to be confusing.
Everyone thinks the mysterious Slevin (Josh Hartnett
) is Nick. The confusion is understandable; after all, Slevin does look like Nick, and heís staying at Nickís apartment for a few days while the real Nick (Sam Jaeger
) is somewhere else ó though nobody knows where, or even if heís alive. The only person to know that Slevin isnít Nick is Nickís neighbor, Lindsey (Lucy Liu
). She discovers Slevin when she knocks on Nickís door to borrow ingredients, but accidentally she catches a glimpse of Slevin as heís getting out of the shower ó flames of lust ignite.
After Lindsey visits, thugs appear looking for Nick, but find Slevin. Slevin canít prove he isnít Nick because he lost his ID to a mugging. The disbelieving thugs grab Slevin, wearing only a towel around his waist, throw him into a car, and take him to meet a notorious mobster called The Boss (Morgan Freeman
) to whom Nick owes money, apparently. Slevin ó whom The Boss thinks is Nick ó explains he doesnít have the money because he isnít Nick. Of course, The Boss doesnít believe him, and demands his cash. Since Slevin canít pay, The Boss requires murderous favors that will put him in the middle of a spectacular rival between The Boss and another mobster called The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley
). Article continues below
During all this, Slevin is under constant surveillance by a shady detective named Brikowski (Stanley Tucci
), as well as world renowned assassin, Goodkat (Bruce Willis
). Bear in mind, this is merely the setup. Where the film goes from here is for you to discoverÖ
Donít worry if youíre lost. Your chances of keeping up with the movie are decent. Although violent and bloody, Lucky Number Slevin doesnít take itself as seriously as you might expect; thus, with its suave, casual style, itís easier to follow on screen than it is reading its synopsis. Lucky for Slevin (now thereís a play on words), the writing is its strongest asset. Joshua Ralphís cunning screenplay organizes the chaos well, and when the filmís pieces finally create a complete puzzle, it makes for a satisfying conclusion. Especially notable is the filmís dialogue, which not only helps develop the characters in a fun and interesting way, but also adds an amusing spin on a rather familiar fable.
Though, the filmís humor is a double edged sward. The casual approach and witty dialogue wound Slevinís effectiveness. Director Paul McGuigan
ís (Wicker Park) pacing is somewhat slack for a twisty thriller, and the humor ó and a haphazard performance from Liu ó makes the movie even less taut. Additionally, itís hard to take the intense action sequences and themes of revenge seriously with all the foolishness going on. The end result is a movie that tastes like the butcher left too much fat on the roast.
Is Slevinís roast worth tasting? Itís easy to admire the film for the scriptís cleverness, although the twists are never difficult to predict. The casting decisions are flawless in some departments ó especially with Kingsley, Freeman, and Willis ó but Hartnett and Liu represent miscalculations of grandeur. The witty, original dialogue is a treasure, but the film struggles to find a voice when guns start firing and buildings start blowing up. Itís a close call ó but Lucky Number Slevin is worth a look for its refreshing qualities. They donít make enough twisty thrillers these days. If Slevin does well, maybe theyíll start making more.