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The Unluckiest Number That You’ll Ever Do

One hardly knows whether Lucky Number Slevin had any potential as an original concept or not, but it certainly made itself appear as though it did. Advertising for the movie makes it look like a fast-moving, light-hearted action romp. In reality it moves far more slowly than necessary, and is full of a dark moroseness that feels jarringly out of place. The film tries desperately to be all style and flare, fails miserably, and has left itself nothing to fall back on. Slevin is almost wholly devoid of originality of any kind.

Slevin is the first motion picture screenplay by Smilovic, and it shows in a variety of ways. He seems to have thrown all of his best ideas at it in the hopes that one of them might stick. The movie’s characters are stereotypes with names like “The Rabbi.” (“Why do they call him the Rabbi?” “Because he’s a rabbi.”) By the second gratuitous repetition of the already onerous witticism about the origin of The Rabbi’s name, the dialogue in general was beginning to feel a great deal less snappy. The best lines (and, in fact, the best performance) were all delivered by a relatively minor character (played by Lucy Liu) whose presence is entirely incidental to everything else in the story. The vast majority of what remains (despite the big-name talent Slevin brings to bear) is hokey and jejune.

The situation is ludicrous and contrived. The Rabbi has shot the only son of rival gangster “The Boss.” The Boss wants Slevin to kill The Rabbi’s son so that no one will believe he was involved (he doesn’t want a war). This, of course, comes after a whole lot of other completely disconnected events have flitted by. The plot is a smorgasbord of elements ripped wholesale from a variety of crime thrillers. Of course, they are all tied loosely together in the end, but by the time that happens, do we really still care?

The movie becomes tedious immediately when it reveals at the outset that something is going on beneath the surface that we don’t know about. We know this will eventually be revealed, presumably with the intent of taking us by surprise. At this point it becomes a matter of sitting back and waiting for the arrival of whatever moment the movie has chosen to make its revelation. When the big twist (if you can call it that) finally arrives, it is not so much “revealed” or “unveiled” as painstakingly pieced together in front of us. The average audience member will already have connected most of the story’s dots, but the seemingly interminable denoument went back to the very beginning and slowly redrew the entire picture from scratch. It was, quite simply, insulting.

Perhaps the most distressing thing of all, though, was the outrageously high body count. Virtually every character with a speaking role has been knocked off by the end (several of them multiple times, thanks to flashbacks). None of these deaths have any depth or meaning, even when they should. They simply seem to take place in order to fill some sort of arbitrary quota. For instance, when The Boss informs Slevin (with some emotion) that his son has been killed, presumably within the past few days, Slevin responds with, “Bummer” and we move on. Of course everything makes sense by the end (sort of), but amidst all of the overwrought cliche and juvenile excess Lucky Number Slevin simply never gave us a reason to care.

  • Co-reviewed with Randy
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~ by Jared on April 11, 2006.

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