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'Lucky Number Slevin' Movie Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Bruce Willis and Josh Hartnett star in Lucky Number Slevin

Bruce Willis and Josh Hartnett in Lucky Number Slevin.

© The Weinstein Company
Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley…Josh Hartnett. Whatever you think Lucky Number Slevin is after scrolling through that list of names, think again. Lucky Number Slevin is one smart, slick, and engaging thriller.

Hard to define and even harder to discuss without giving anything away, Lucky Number Slevin is one of those rare movies where the gotcha moment isn’t telegraphed a mile in advance. Because it’s so twisty-turny, putting down in words the standard plot blurb doesn’t do the film justice. It would be doing a disservice to the film and the filmmakers to attempt to sum this up in one neat little paragraph.

Whatever is said about the film has to be heavily edited to remove the possibility of any spoilers. Having said all that, the plot – in a nutshell – involves a very unlucky man named Slevin (Hartnett) who’s always in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. He’s just lost his job, his girlfriend’s dumped him and arriving in New York to visit a friend, he’s mugged and his wallet’s stolen.

Lucy Liu and Josh Hartnett star in Lucky Number Slevin

Lucy Liu and Josh Hartnett in Lucky Number Slevin

© The Weinstein Company
Without any way to prove his real identity, Slevin’s mistaken for his friend when low-level mobsters show up at his buddy’s apartment. Slevin’s friend owes a lot of money to a mob boss (Freeman) and now Slevin’s got to kill off the son of a rival mobster (Kingsley) in order to keep from sleeping with the fishes. Throw in Lucy Liu as a coroner who loves to solve mysteries (and who happens to like checking out Slevin in his skimpy white towel and not much else) and Bruce Willis as the film’s primary bad guy - the assassin for hire Mr. Goodkat - and you’ve got the basics of Lucky Number Slevin…kind of.

Lucky Number Slevin is a quirky piece of film noir within a contemporary setting, featuring engaging characters and sizzling (not to mention quotable) rapid-fire dialogue. Dark and playful, Lucky Number Slevin teases its audience over the course of 109 minutes and ultimately delivers all that it promises – and more.

Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu are smoking hot; the chemistry’s there and both actors give two of the better performances of their careers. Hartnett is outstanding, bringing the right blend of bewilderment and determination to a character caught up in unbelievably difficult circumstances. Liu is delightful - vibrant and full of energy - and her character of Lindsey is easily the most engaging of the lot.

Morgan Freeman as The Boss and Ben Kingsley as The Rabbi engage in a battle to see who can chew the most scenery, with the audience the ultimate winner of that contest. Bruce Willis is menacing when he needs to be as Goodkat, and contributes a special flair to the role of the assassin.

The right mix of ingredients are present. The cast, the dialogue, sets, and cinematography, everything combines to create a movie that could easily go back in time and fit snuggly beside all the classic noir films in Hollywood history.

Credit director Paul McGuigan, screenwriter Jason Smilovic, and the entire cast for bringing this tightly wound, intricately constructed thriller to life. Lucky Number Slevin is a pleasant surprise and a film you might not mind sitting through more than once to pick up things you didn't catch the first time around.


Lucky Number Slevin was directed by Paul McGuigan and is rated R for strong violence, sexuality and language.

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