First there was Quentin Tarantino, who combined bloody violence and wisecracking humor in his tragic tales of cops gone bad and killers trying to do good. Then there was Guy Ritchie, who made outright comedies in which lots of people died but a happy ending was ensured for the "best" characters. And now there is Lucky Number Slevin, which was directed by neither filmmaker but bears their stamp nonetheless. Like Ritchie, director Paul McGuigan (Gangster No. 1) is a stylish Brit, and like Tarantino, writer Jason Smilovic revels in amusing wordplay; what's more, several of the actors are Tarantino veterans.
So if you don't like the sort of crime films that find humor in gangsters and hit men, you almost certainly won't like Lucky Number Slevin, which begins with several graphic and seemingly unconnected acts of violence—a couple of shootings, a couple of stabbings, a broken neck and a baseball flung across a room and right through a bookie's bespectacled eye—before settling into a funny tale of mistaken identity. But if you do get a kick out of this sort of film, then you may like Slevin—though the characters are wafer-thin and the plot leaves you with little to digest once the movie's over, which is probably for the best, since the more you think about it and take it seriously, the more disturbing it does become.
The film unfolds at a brisk pace, and the less you know about it, the more fun you may have being surprised by the plot twists and guessing how they will all fit together. Josh Hartnett stars as Slevin, a man who has just arrived in New York City, when a couple of gangsters come knocking on the door and demanding that he come with them. The two men are looking for someone named Nick Fischer, and since ...1