Lucky # Slevin

Lucky # Slevin (2005)
Genius Products
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Tucci, Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, Trailer

I had never heard of "Lucky # Slevin" before the DVD landed on my desk. I had never heard of director Paul McGuigan either. However the impressive cast list got me interested. Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Tucci, Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu? Okay, I am so going to watch this…

Slevin (Josh Hartnett) has a really bad day. After catching his girlfriend in flagranti he decides to visit a friend in Ney York. Once there, he is immediately mugged and punched on the nose. Then he finds his friend is not there to welcome him and soon he is escorted by two gangsters to me The Boss (Morgan Freeman). In a case of mistaken identity, Slevin learns that his friend is owing a lot of money to his bookie and now he has to stand straight for it. Unable to shell out the $96.000, the Boss offers a deal, kill someone for me and I will forget about the money.
Back in the apartment trying to come to grips with what just happened, in bounces Lindsey (Lucy Liu) the girl from next door he had met previously. Talking without ever taking a breath, she smells murder and wants to play "Columbo" trying to solve the case. But before they can get any further Slevin is picked up again. This time by two tough Jews who make sure Slevin is on time for his rendezvous with The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). There he learns that his friend owes a substantial sum also to this shotgun-wielding rabbi.

Where is all this going? To on hell of an entertaining thrill-ride with an endless array twists and turns.

"Lucky # Slevin" is the film Quentin Tarantino always wanted to make if he knew how to tell a story and wouldn't be so concerned with ripping-off other films' ideas constantly. This film is "Pulp Fiction" on steroids. It is violent and funny – darkly funny and graphically violent. With much better writing, much better pacing, much better storytelling and direction and much better characters, "Lucky # Slevin" is truly a sleeper hit that deserves your attention. The film has a very interesting signature throughout and the production design is every bit as retro in-your-face as Tarantino's. the camera work is very well done and the movie has some wonderfully composed shots.
With a cast like the one mentioned above it is easy to see that the story's characters are driving the story like a Rolls Royce. Seeing Morgan Freeman in the part of a bad guy is a treat while Ben Kingsley brings out his subtle menace once again with panache. With all those heavies in the picture, Lucy Liu is a sight to see, chattering and bouncing off the walls constantly as if she just overdosed on sugar and coffee while Hartnett simply tries to make sense of it all.

Genius Products presents "Lucky # Slevin" in its original 2.35:! widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is enhanced for 16×9 TV sets, of course. A fullframe version is being sold separately I understand. The transfer is absolutely clean and clear without any defects or blemishes. Not even a speckle mars the picture here and the DVD reveals a good level of detail. Trying to capture the cinematography as faithfully as possible, the DVD masterfully reproduces the colors, hues and tones of the film. Sometimes muted and drab,, at others bold and saturated, the film runs the entire gamut and the transfer always ensures proper reproduction. With solid black levels that give the image good visual depth the picture looks like a million bucks and is a pleasure to behold.

The audio comes as a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track that is active and dynamic. Making good use of the surrounds the film has a bustling sound stage that is pleasing but never distracting. Dialogues are well integrated and understandable while sound effects and the music aim for a wise sound field.

A number of extras have been included in this release, starting out with a commentary track that features Josh Hartnett along with Lucy Liu and writer Jason Smilovic. It is a fun track with lots of information and insight and a good number of entertaining bits. A second track is also included, by director Paul McGuigan in which he discusses many of the production aspects of the film.

You will also find deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, and a making of featurette on the disc also, accompanied by the movie's theatrical trailer.

I had a blast with "Lucky # Slevin." Not knowing what to expect the film hit me like a runaway train and took me on a thrill ride that lasted to the final frames. I love it when I'm surprised by such films out of the left field and it shows me that there are still a few filmmakers out there who do have a unique signature and know how to put together a solid film on their own. Very cool!