Monday, July 31, 2006

Lucky # Slevin

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI saw Lucky Number Slevin a month or two ago thanks to a friend giving me free tickets.

It ended up costing me a night of productivity

It was a gangster noir fairy tale where everyone is bad but to varying degrees. Even the guys you think are good are mired in past mistakes.

The Plot: Josh Hartnet is Slevin is an unlucky man who gets mistaken for a friend whose apatment he is currently staying in. Two opposing gangsters at war with each other live in opposing apartments which they never leave out of fear of the other. They both recruit Slevin to off the other, while being manipulated by an enigmatic assassin named Mr. Goodkat.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting At least that is what you think is the plot. Midway through act 2 the bottom falls out and the story careens in a different directions and then slams you to the big surprise and everybody who is anybody in the story dies.
This story seems to happen in that private little world adjacent to the Tarantino universe where everyone who is anyone is super cool, speaks in pop culture smart ass and violence rains down on the wicked, which in a movie where everyone is a bad guy means everyone buys it at the end.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt brought to mind the movie Payback staring Mel Gibson, a movie I liked enough to bootleg the DVD, but not enough to outright buy for more than 5 bucks. The movie, which also stars Luci Liu as a mobbed up dominatrix, (a 180 from her role in Slevin,) features a down and out thug who works to tear down a crime organization.
There is a mood conveyed in the lighting and polish of Payback that I see in Slevin. The walls of the apartment Slevin and Lindsey (Luci Liu) live in are art deco cool. The two apartments of the controlling gangsters are posh high rises with stairs and a classy sense of space. This is important in a movie where a plot point is their inability to leave the building. The set designs are great, all the wallpapers and backgrounds are cool and stand out just enough for you to notice.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting The acting in the movie is cool, everyone staying at this charismatic energy level despite occasionally having to make absurd decisions. Bruce Willis is Mr. Goodkat, the high price assassin who seems to be pulling the string of this outfit gets to play dangerous and stoic.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMorgan Freeman is the boss of the black mob, and plays a little looser than he often gets the chance to be. It is the silver tongued Morgan Freeman who is quick to smile and yet be dangerous like his role in street smart, as opposed to quiet wisdom Morgan Freeman in his soulful best friend roles. (see Shawshank, Forgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Batman Begins).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting “Sir” Ben Kingsley plays the Rabbi, the opposing boss, as a smart yet brutal man of God who plays it like a shark. (Nicole loved him.) Stanley Tucci also shows up in the movie as a somewhat smaller role as a tough detective. He meets a dark end for old mistakes and one is left to wonder if he had spent any time trying to redeem himself in the interim years. (You won’t know what I am talking about until you see it.) Hartnet holds his own in the movie, playing Slevin as a smart ass everyman in a world of crooks. He doesn’t play too smart or too dumb until he needs to be anything.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingLuci Liu plays cutesy little Asian neighbor that is also Hartnet’s love interest. It is a relationship built on Liu’s quirky cuteness that is a little less presence than the roles she has attempted of before. It is hard to talk about a lot of the story without revealing the double crosses. The movie is neo noir, with the concepts of alienation and human brutality at the forefront. Slevin gets punched in the gut every five minutes or thrown out of cars. The bad guys hold a mysterious power over his life until he turns the tables to fight back. Slevin as always turns out to be the smart little man in a big machine. People get shot and one or two things get blown up. It was an enjoyable time but pay attention until the end or you will miss all the turns in the plot.

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