John Hartnett secures the record for Longest Period of Time Wearing a Towel and Nothing Else in "Lucky Number Slevin," a groan-inducing title for a groan-inducing movie. After what seemed like at least a good half-decade of hibernation, yet another hack filmmaker has emerged from the bushes and taken his suck-pump to dredge the remaining puddles of silt at the bottom of the now-drained Tarantino Lake; Jason Smilovic penned this too-familiar tale of criminals with oh-so-enigmatic names (The Boss, The Rabbi, Slevin) speaking in a torrent of pop-culture clichés (James Bond, Norman Rockwell, Andy Griffith, and Alfred Hitchcock get shout-outs), involved in some oh-so-wacky, oh-so-ironic, oh-so-postmodern shenanigans, and director Paul McGuigan put the frantically-edited mess up on screen for all to see. When you notice the missed beats in the dialog between Bruce Willis (whose persistent smirk seems to be holding back laughter) and another character during the opening scene, it doesn't bode well for the remainder of the film...and "Slevin" just gets progressively worse. The characters are a collection of pretentiously self-aware ciphers, and following the plot is pointless, since the film uses the LAST 30 MINUTES to tell us what the hell is going on (via dialog and flashbacks where--yup--information that was withheld is now revealed!), because its structure is so tediously contrived. In any other case, "Slevin"'s unusually excellent cast would (at least somewhat) redeem the film, but veterans like Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, and Willis seem to be going through the motions of a flat, unmemorable script; meanwhile, Lucy Liu and Josh Hartnett radiate youthful cuteness, but precious little sympathy. Actually, the one smidgen of talent on display in "Slevin" might be McGuigan's ability to squander a cast most directors would kill for--now THAT is a true achievement. For those who have never seen a good crime thriller and would like to look 'hip' and 'with it,' have a ball with "Lucky Number Slevin"; the rest of us will be re-watching "The Usual Suspects" and "Pulp Fiction."
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