Paul McGuigan’s â€œLucky Number Slevinâ€ is a violent, raucous good olâ€™ time with a stellar cast. It scarcely ventures into new territory, but the way it revisits old ground is extraordinary. Unfortunately, the script is often bland and uninspired, in stark contrast to the action and storyline. Despite this, the cast carries the movie above and beyond its means.
“Slevin” tells the story of a two warring mob bosses seeking revenge on each other, killing masses of pawns in the process. Though McGuigan borrows heavily from Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”, imitating the master is a formula that always works, if done correctly. Josh Hartnett is the perfect modern-day adaptation of Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornill, a New York advertising executive who is mistaken for a government agent.
Hartnett is also mistaken for his friend, Nick â€” a young man deep in debt to the two most powerful mob bosses in New York City, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley. Chaos ensues and confusion amplifies. The tousled hair, bruised face and laid-back demeanor of Hartnett make him the lastest celluloid alpha-male, evoking Brad Pitt circa “Fight Club” and “Ocean’s Eleven”. And Bruce Willis is perfect as the hitman, Goodkat. After all, it’s the same character he’s been playing since “Pulp Fiction”: a stern-face badass with a heart of gold. Lucy Liu, however, switches it up by playing a peppy girl-next-door, a refreshing change from the ice queen we’ve come to know courtesy of “Kill Bill” and “Charlie’s Angels”.
The two mob bosses, Kingsley and Freeman, also work as the yin and yang of the film. The decision to center a Mob film set in New York City on Black and Jewish bosses helps set up the slew of racial, masculinity, and homoerotic themes that play out in their relationship. The penultimate scene is the best in the movie, a culmination of opposing sides coming together: Freeman and Kingsley are bound and gagged back-to-back, crying for their lost sons and manhood.
Though you may feel as though you’ve seen it before, “Slevin” is worth your time. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it’s worth it to watch some of the best actors of our time on screen together â€” especially Freeman and Kingsley in their turn as odd-couple prisoners.