Lucky Number Slevin

Lucky Number Slevin photo
Photo by D. Tempesta

I find Lucky Number Slevin to be painfully undervalued. How much fun it is to watch and the cleverity throughout more than make up for any shortcomings it may have. The complaint that most resonated with me was how derivative this movie is; however, this does not devalue it as a good film. While I place a high importance on originality, being original is not a precursor for being clever, or even good. For example, modern satires are inherently unoriginal, but they are absurdly clever. Arrested Development likely provides the best example of this.

After multiple watches of Lucky Number Slevin, what I have found that I like the most is that Bruce Willis tells you the entire plot of the movie in the first couple minutes, but you have no idea what he is even talking about until after the movie has ended. The whole film is a Kansas City Shuffle for the audience. We are so distracted trying to make sense of the movie with what little knowledge we have that we don’t see what is so obvious. We all looked right; they went left. And there was even a body (or several), so it was a real Kansas City Shuffle. But this points to what I find to be the greatest strength of the movie, which is its pace. Each scene offers new information and moves the story forward, nothing is arbitrary, and nothing feels redundant. Even when Slevin is taken to the towers of the Boss and the Rabbi, which are essentially the same scene, they were handled so differently that it didn’t feel repetitive. Again, we were just trying to learn the story and characters but were immediately thrust into the confusing world we assumed Slevin was sharing. Much like Slevin did not have time to get dressed, we never had time to contemplate, effectively keeping us caught up in the Kansas City Shuffle. Also, Slevin spent an impressively long time in nothing but a towel.

This brings us to what I think to be the next best feature of the movie, its dialogue and humor. These are one. They go together. The dialogue is constant, which plays directly into the legerdemain of the movie. We get caught up in the mouthy responses of Slevin, the high energy detective work of Lindsey, and the clever conversations with the Boss and the Rabbi. We are still trying to figure out the story when we are slapped full in the face with a wide array of character interactions that demand our full attention to even kind of keep up with. It took at least three viewings and a couple readings of the lines to fully appreciate the subtlety strewn throughout the dialogue. The whole movie wraps perfectly into this massive sleight of hand performed on the audience. But this alone would not have made Lucky Number Slevin good. The reveal needed to be as good as the deception. I certainly found the reveal well worth the deception the first time I watched, and I have every time since. There was a certain comfort in knowing the boy from the beginning was not killed and a certain satisfaction to be derived from him avenging his family. I do not approve of what Slevin and Goodkat did, but it was good to see the people responsible for killing Slevin’s family be held accountable. I just don’t think it was Slevin’s place to make that call. For a movie about murder and revenge killings, Lucky Number Slevin is surprisingly light and fun.

My name is Chuck, and these are my thoughts. Now I would like to know what you think. Were you fooled by the Kansas City Shuffle the first time you watched? What did you think of the characters and dialogue? Do you agree with the critics or do you think this movie was underrated? Leave a comment down below, and we’ll talk. Enjoy the day!

Next Week: Apocalypto

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