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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.64%
Worth A Look36.36%
Average: 13.64%
Pretty Bad: 13.64%
Total Crap: 22.73%

6 reviews, 30 user ratings

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Lucky Number Slevin
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Kansas City Fumble"
2 stars

At the outset of 'Lucky Number Slevin,' a character explains the concept of the Kansas City Shuffle: while people look left, you go right. Here’s to hoping that information proves relevant to the plot later on (fingers crossed). The funny thing about the Kansas City Shuffle is, if you look left and then right several times, it very much resembles shaking your head in shame, a motion not unfitting of such a film, a convoluted crime caper not nearly violent, witty, or clever enough to justify its existence.

The above speaker is Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis), an expert assassin and the only significant character that appears in the first twenty minutes or so as the plot lays a lengthy foundation, with several figures only shown from the shoulders down, their faces to be revealed dramatically during the climax (keep a mental list of suspects and attempt to match the faces to the characters; record your score and compare with others as the credits roll). The prologue then ties into the immediate situation, which I will paraphrase from another character, the lead’s nosy neighbor (Lucy Liu): a gangster (Morgan Freeman) asks Slevin (Josh Hartnett) to kill the gay son of a rival gangster (Sir Ben Kinglsey) in order to pay off the debts of the person whose place he’s staying at since he lost his job, apartment, and girlfriend.

This is the type of film where people have names like The Boss, The Rabbi, and The Fairy, everyone speaks in riddles, unleashing torrents of revolving-door dialogue as their lips part, and each location suffers from its own atrocious set design, including the most horrendous wallpaper this side of Oldboy. (At least that wallpaper was semi-hypnotic as opposed to flat-out distracting.) Willis lurks behind every other corner as Hartnett is tossed from criminal to cop to criminal, taking punches and delivering quips while appearing generally unconcerned about the entire mistaken-identity situation (a trait that he chalks up to ataraxia – look it up). Throw in a lackluster NYC setting (filmed in Montreal – surprise, surprise), and you have a third-rate double-crosser primed to elicit scoffs out of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, not to mention the general moviegoing population.

Hartnett remains a stiff screen presence, yet eleventh-hour developments do hint at some untapped chops that he may reveal in a subsequent role. Liu fares better when dominant instead of ditzy, but she proves suitable as the requisite femme. Willis smirks on cue, the recently unimpressive Kingsley often sounds similar to Tweety Bird, and Freeman gets to spout lines like “He’s been deaf ever since he was shot” and “ You were supposed to make the job look like it ain’t what it is” without the faintest hint of enthusiasm. By the time Freeman and Kingsley face off while tied up back-to-back, any passing interest in the pair evaporates easily, not that they are entirely to blame for the genuine apathy that sets in around that point. Oh, and Stanley Tucci, Robert Forster, and Danny Aiello all contribute small appearances that should manage to either cover their kid’s braces or help out with the mortgage.

Finally, the film spends its last reel explaining each and every detail of its fitting yet unsurprising twist. As it turns out, this full-blown recap is more considerate than condescending, as A) those watching it need not worry about rewatching the entire film in an effort to qualify the development, and B) those eager to watch it need only to take in the final act to connect the dots. Few films are as thoughtful towards their audience, opting to save them nearly ninety minutes of drivel while delivering the same level of narrative compensation. Maybe the ending is only an improvement in comparison to everything that preceded it. For a story about the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, this is the closest it gets to doing something right. By the end, 'Lucky Number Slevin' doesn’t add up to very much.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/11/06 16:14:59
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
6/22/09 Beefsolver Transparently derivative. Uneven results. Beef solved. 3 stars
11/26/08 Shaun Wallner Laughed my ass off! 5 stars
3/05/08 JLH Very good flim... 4 stars
9/22/07 Steve Newman I loved this film - go see 4 stars
5/30/07 Piz an 0-2 pitch high and outside ... a waste! 2 stars
3/15/07 Matt A strong cast is wasted on this overly complicated pile of cinematic effluent. 1 stars
10/29/06 JeromeBosch Elaborate, intelligent and satisfying. Excellent! 5 stars
10/24/06 Indrid Cold Great dialogue + decent story = above average. Hey, I liked it more than Pulp Fiction. 4 stars
10/22/06 Dillon A mindgame worth playing. 4 stars
10/11/06 jagnet I thought this was very entertaining. One for the collection 5 stars
10/05/06 Jordan Whoever wrote that review is a moron! It was incredible. 5 stars
10/03/06 Agent Sands One of the most brilliant scripts ever written. Dialogue & story are both refreshingly new! 5 stars
9/22/06 Alyssa Hale It has a good story which is developed well through the movie. 4 stars
9/21/06 matt enjoyable but VERY predictable 4 stars
9/17/06 ad entertaining 4 stars
8/24/06 Ali Junaid Hayat It is a good story. 3 stars
5/26/06 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Possibly the best amoral contorted thriller since A FISH CALLED WANDA. 5 stars
4/30/06 David Pearson Superb well told entertaining crime story 5 stars
4/29/06 Agent Sands Riveting, Oldboy-style refresher. 5 stars
4/28/06 Ahmed Kazikian Good movie. Stop bashing it, and pay attention; you'll enjoy it. Not a masterwork, but fun. 5 stars
4/23/06 Yvonne I thought the movie was very good. It could have been better, but overall it was good. 4 stars
4/16/06 mr.mike thumbs up 4 stars
4/13/06 San Lamar Entertaining Action Flick 4 stars
4/12/06 the reader lame and derivative, all hype and boring to sit through 1 stars
4/08/06 Steve Michaud Enjoyable blending of Hitchcock and Tarantino 4 stars
4/08/06 jasq hit man with a heart of gold. 3 stars
1/28/06 xtc at least the movie has wallpaper going for it. 2 stars
1/24/06 Ellen James Very violent! Too much gore and not enough plot. Mystery that was figured out in 15 min.! 2 stars
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  07-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 12-Sep-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Paul McGuigan

Written by
  Jason Smilovic

  Josh Hartnett
  Ben Kingsley
  Bruce Willis
  Morgan Freeman
  Lucy Liu
  Stanley Tucci

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