Fearful Symmetry

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Lucky Number Slevin

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Kansas City shuffle

Kansas City shuffle

I watched Lucky Number Slevin on the back of seeing the opening in a YouTube clip. That was a mistake. Those first few minutes regarding a fixed horse race are compelling and artfully filmed but unfortunately the rest of the film does not live up to it – or rather the film is all style and twist with no emotional pay off. The prologue ends with an explanation of the ‘Kansas City Shuffle’ – slang for misdirection, you look left when you should be looking for the punch coming from the right. And the whole film does that. It’s fairly obvious from the start that the plot is leading up to some sort of major twist, but for me it was all to obvious, I spotted the misdirection so saw the punch coming a mile off.

Josh Hartnett is the everyman character, Slevin, drawn into a cold war conflict between two crime lords, The Rabbi (’Sir’ Ben Kingsley – this was the role he obtained some derision for by insisting his newly gained knighthood be included in the credits) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). They sit in penthouse apartments across the street from each other, fearing to leave in case the one assassinates the other. Hartnett ends up via a piece of mind-melting plotting, to be hired by both to assassinate their opposite enemy. Bruce Willis turns up as one of those legendary deadly killers who only exists in pulp thrillers or films just like this one and Lucy Liu seems to think she is in a 40s screwball romance. Unfortunately all these characters are just pieces in the labyrinthine plot and with the highly mannered dialogue – no one talks like a real person – you end up not caring for any of them.

It’s a pity because I really liked the directors previous, equally highly stylised movie, Gangster No. 1, but with that film he did not forget to include some heart in it.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm

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