Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

(In theaters, April 2006) There are two good films in this movie, but their union is far less impressive than the sum of their parts. First up is a sympathetic crime comedy, in which an amiable protagonist (Josh Hartnett, playing up his usual lack of passion) see himself stuck between two competing crime-lords. As a fluffy premise, it works well and earns a few laughs, bringing to mind some of the least-annoying post-Tarantino criminal comedies. Plus it’s got Lucy Liu: I could watch her in just about anything, but she’s particularly appealing here as the frazzled-hair girl next door. But this seemingly amusing caper is leading toward a twist loudly foreshadowed by curious ellipses and a number of nonsensical details. When the plot twist comes, it changes the nature of the film, turning it in a story of violent revenge that leaves few threads untied. Taken in bits and pieces, Lucky Number Slevin isn’t bad at all. The impressive cast (featuring Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Ben Kingsley, etc.) often makes it appear as being much better than it actually is, as do the occasional good lines and arresting set design. There is enough quirkiness in the first half to give the impression that it’s leading somewhere fun. But in the final analysis, Lucky Number Slevin looks like a twist in search of a script. Whatever good ratings it gets are mostly based on potential, because the execution can’t fulfil initial expectations.

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