22 January 2006 | wmjaho
Wow! Great Noir Caper Flick
2006 Sundance Film Festival From the opening scene in Lucky Number Slevin, you will be straining to keep up. People are getting killed left and right, and it's never clear until the end of the movie how they are all connected. But you know it fits somehow and Scottish director Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park) manages to keep you guessing while firmly grabbing your attention and holding it with hardly a second to take a breath.
In the film noir tradition, but with the intense and graphic violence of the Lock Stock and Layer Cake genre, Slevin is really a caper movie, and frankly reminded me more of The Sting than anything else. It dances nimbly from grisly stomach-churning action to clever and light-hearted banter. This could only be accomplished by a truly incredible cast, led by Josh Hartnett in an outstanding performance, great work by Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis doing his thing, and supported by the always excellent Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. There's even a little time for Stanley Tucci.
Liu plays Lindsay, the next-door-neighbor/natural sleuth/coroner/love interest who discovers Slevin in her neighbor Nick's apartment. They mystery that immediately engages her is what happened to Nick, who never shows up. However, plenty of people do show up, mistaking Slevin for Nick, and before long he is neck deep in murder contracts, called debts and warring gang factions. Hartnett plays the role to perfection. I've never seen him this good. He is both convincing and empathetic as a glib, fearless victim of mistaken identity, yet filled with confidence that he can make his plan work.
This is a terrific film, assuming you can stomach the bloody violence. The pieces fit neatly together (well, I have one bone to pick with the scriptwriter, but it would be revealing too much to share it). I highly recommend Lucky Number Slevin.