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Judge Brendan Babish • Location: Upland, CA
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Philadelphia Film Festival Review #2: Lucky Number Slevin
April 2nd, 2006 9:40PM

Title: Lucky Number Slevin
Director: Paul McGuigan

Is it too late to change this film's title? It's baffling how such an effortlessly smart and breezy film got saddled with such a horrible pun as its title. Well, you shouldn't prejudge. This is going to be one of the best films at the festival.

I say this despite a ridiculous plot and some questionable casting. Josh Hartnett (Hollywood Homicide) plays Slevin, a young unemployed sad sack who's mistaken for his friend, Nick Fisher. Seems like good ol' Nick owed money all over town and now Slevin's assuming his debts. Like every great comedy-action hero, Hartnett tries to affect a relaxed, wiseass coolness that belies the danger his character is in. The greats - such as Eddie Murphy and Bruce Willis - pull this off with ease. Hartnett, however, looks too much like an Abercrombie & Fitch model to be so self-deprecating and charming. Still, this is a huge upgrade from his work in garbage like Pearl Harbor and 40 Days & 40 Nights. Thankfully, strong supporting turns by Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsly and the aforementioned Willis lend the film's plot a resonance it would have otherwise lacked.

It's also best not to concentrate too hard on the plot. The story is creative and engaging, but falls apart under close scrutiny. Thankfully, the movie has enough humor and charm to earn a lot of goodwill. This is one of those films where, if you watch it in a crowded theater, you are going to miss some dialogue because of the laughter. If you are just looking to have a good time at the cinema, you're going to have to search awful hard to find something better than Lucky Number Slevin.

Grade: A-


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