Lucky Number Slevin

PULP DICTION Willis, left, and Hartnett break out the tough-guy chatter.
PULP DICTION Willis, left, and Hartnett break out the tough-guy chatter.

Time Out says

Awkward, flashy and as contrived as its title, Lucky Number Slevin is a hermetically sealed chunk of brutal whimsy, a pretzel-logic gangster tale that trades hard-earned reality for sassy absurdity. This tiresome thug thriller casts Hartnett as Slevin, an unfortunate underdog who comes to New York to escape a soured relationship and finds that two archrival crime kingpins, the Boss (Freeman) and the Rabbi (Kingsley), mistakenly (and bafflingly) confuse him with his crash-pad host. Seems the now-missing friend owes both crooks money, so each in turn muscles Slevin. Trying to help him out of his double-pinched situation is flirty next-door neighbor Lindsey (Liu), with whom Slevin falls deeply in love. And woven through the entire film is a mysterious assassin named Mr. Goodkat (a badly bewigged Bruce Willis), who may or may not be working for both bad guys and might even hold the key that connects everything.

Rife with overcooked dialogue and tough-guy posturing, Slevin coasts on ample doses of its own smugness, preferring cheap thrills and clever asides to smart, solid storytelling. McGuigan, whose sociopath soap opera Gangster No. 1 was a far more absorbing cock-strut, is a director with flair to spare. But as with his convoluted Wicker Park and The Reckoning, he is more interested in flash and sizzle than with making sure his narrative conceits aren’t just bent-nosed nonsense. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—Stephen Garrett



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