“You Can’t Have A Kansas City Shuffle Without a Body.”

17 Jun

Back in 2006, Lucky Number Slevin earned itself a solid spot in my Top Ten. Quite possibly Top Five… I really should write down a definite list one day.

From the dream team (which in my case is director/editor) that brought us Gangster No.1, Wicker Park and The Reckoning – though to be 100% honest, I have only seen Gangster No.1, but I will rectify this very soon – and writer Jason Smilovic comes a stylistic, entertaining crime film. Now, I have always felt this film was poorly marketed, and I stand by that to this day. IMDb labels it Crime, Drama, Mysetery. Wikipedia calls it a Crime Thriller. Rotten Tomatoes the Mystery & Suspense, Drama route. Is everybody forgetting how funny this movie is?

To me this movie is a dark comedy packed with action, excessive, yet stylized violence and plot twists. Crime movie? Yes. Rival Mob bosses with vendettas. Multiple murders. Gambling and dead bookies. Crime is covered. Thriller? Maybe. It does get your heart pumping from time to time, but a quick Google search for “thriller movies” brings up examples to which Slevin just doesn’t compare. Drama? Not quite. Mystery? I usually expect a P.I. in a mystery. A little dash of Sam Spade, from time to time. Not here.

I’m gonna stick with Action, Comedy.


The script is amazing, especially the dialogue. It’s witty, creative and doesn’t miss a beat. I’d like to choose a key scene that illustrates this, but there are too many to choose from. Even though I JUST finished watching it and it is perfectly fresh in my mind. Okay…. one… and it’s not even the best one. The cops have thrown Slevin in the back of a van for questioning. One cop suggests that Slevin “should play ball”. Response: “Really? You think I’m tall enough?” Slevin spends most of the movie dodging answers to straight forward questions and playing with semantics.

Josh Hartnett gives such an amazing performance. He is charismatic, intriguing… and of course dreamy. But the stand-out performance, in my opinion, is Lucy Lui. Though I have seen her in many films before, this one made me a fan. She is an adorable, fast talking, peppy little character. Where’s her Oscar? But these two are just the beginning. Ben Kingsley is phenomenal. Morgan Freeman gives a solid performance as always. Bruce Willis is Bruce Willis. I have ALWAYS been a Willis fan and will watch anything he is in. Stanley Tucci ties it all together. WE also can’t forget about Elvis and Sloe – Dorian Missick of Southland fame and Mykelti Williamson before he ran CTU. Their first scene, where they pick up “Nick Fisher”, is gold.

This film returned to my radar recently – It was part of my contribution to Film and Things Top Five Black Comedies here: http://natashaharmeryear1.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/what-are-your-top-five-black-comedies/
I really enjoyed revisiting today. Unfortunately, Jason Smilovic hasn’t written any other films, but I am now interested to check out some of his tv episodes. The plot twists in this film may not be the trickiest to figure out, but they are a lot of fun. Especially thanks to the editing of Andrew Hulme. We get sneak peaks at the twists that are revealed to us in the end. The connections are there if you watch for them. I was lucky enough to be working at a single screen cinema when this came out. I got a sneak peak staff screening and the ability to walk in at any time to watch my favourite parts and appreciate those little plot twist nods.

It is also a very well shot film. Stylized and interesting. Noticeable without being in your face.

I’m a big fan of director Paul McGuigan who did a season of BBC Sherlock and has left me itching to watch Gangster No.1 again. Maybe tonight? 🙂

Not much of a “review” review, but I just wanted to share my love for a movie. Something which i’m sure to do more of in the future.

If you haven’t seen this film, you should. If you have, and weren’t the biggest fan, please give it another chance.

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