Lucky # Slevin

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s always hard to tell which movies are really interesting, well-written and actually worth a look. And due to the influx of DVD’s that I receive, I have to take the occasional risk and view a movie that I might not really want to see. This has an upside; naturally, as I’ve found quite a few movies that I’d have otherwise not have had the inclination to see. Such is the case with “Lucky # Slevin”, a movie I remember reading about and seeing trailers for briefly last spring, but certainly not one that the buzz was surrounding. First off, I’m a fan of Josh Hartnett. I’ve liked the choices he’s made in movies and I feel he’s an underrated actor. Hartnett rose to fame, of course, in “Pearl Harbor” and has had varying success since then. But after a small role in last year’s “Sin City”, it was time for another darker role for him – though he makes the most of it here. The script was written by Jason Smilovic and the movie directed by Paul McGuigan (“Wicker Park” also starring Hartnett) and for every moment of violence in the film, it’s equalized by a moment of humor. If ever there were a black comedy, this is certainly it.

There’s a brief back story about a man who bets his life savings on a horse who’s a “sure thing”. Naturally the horse loses, the man can’t pay and he and his family are likewise killed by gangsters. We then flash forward to meet Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) as he’s in the middle of what can be construed as the worst day of his life. He’s lost his job, girlfriend and his apartment and as he emerges from the shower, is confronted by two henchmen who believe him to be someone else. He’s to perform a murder to repay the $96,000 debt that he doesn’t owe. Naturally this means nothing to the crime boss (Morgan Freeman, playing about the most likeable crime boss – ever) who only wants the job done. No sooner is Slevin returned to his friend’s abode than two other henchmen essentially repeat the same process. The catch is that the two opposing crime bosses are and have been at war with each other for some twenty years. So paranoid are they, that though they live across the street from one another, they’ve been reduced to shut-ins in order to avoid getting killed by the other. Slevin finds himself between a rock and a hard place and is doing everything he can to avoid getting killed himself.

There’s more, of course, but it’s hard to get all the ins and outs of what’s really happening without divulging the plot. I also neglected to mention two key characters: Lindsey (Lucy Liu), the spunky neighbor who may or may not become Slevin’s love interest. And then there’s Goodkat (Bruce Willis), a shadowy figure who’s as mysterious as his namesake. What I will say is that the movie has a very quirky, snappy style to it that I loved immediately. Hartnett seems to really have fun with his role here and it shows. And call me crazy, but in some scenes he looks exactly like a younger version of Brad Pitt. Odd. The rest of the supporting cast is rounded out with Stanley Tucci and Ben Kingsley turning in decent performances themselves. While “Lucky # Slevin” may not be for everyone (there are some pretty graphic scenes), I found it particularly enjoyable and a good time. Hopefully this will find its audience on DVD.

Video: How does it look?

“Lucky # Slevin” is shown in a gorgrous-looking 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I’ve become very spoiled by HD-DVD and it’s hard to watch a standard DVD sometimes, just because that you tend to notice what you don’t see on a pristine transfer. This, however, doesn’t have a whole lot for me to point out. I found the colors to be very warm and natural and the edge enhancement is at the absolute minimum. Flesh tones appear to be right on target and considering the somewhat stylized palette here, I have to say that this is one fine-looking transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

Audio wise, there’s a basic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that certainly has its moments, however it’s nothing that will really stand out as being fantastic. The witty dialogue is conveyed with ease and sounds very natural coming out of the center channel. While there are a few scenes in which the surrounds kick in (plenty of gunfire), the sound stage is relegated to the front for the most part. This certainly isn’t a bad track, and I wasn’t really expecting much from it but it’s above average.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There aren’t a whole lot of supplements here, but the two commentary tracks are certainly worthwhile. I personally feel that they should have just been edited into one track, but Hartnett, Liu and writer Jason Smilovic are pretty chatty on their track. Director Paul McGuigan is a bit more laid back and not nearly as talkative as the others. There’s the standard “Making of ‘Lucky # Slevin’” which is fairly informative, but you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all. What’s more interesting are the deleted scenes and even an alternate ending. It shows you which direction that the film could have gone and though the deleted scenes don’t offer a whole lot, it’s a nice addition for sure.

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