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Lucky Number Slevin(2006)
Set in New York City, a case of mistaken identity lands Slevin in the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city's most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi and The Boss. Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them... before they get him.
For more about Lucky Number Slevin and the Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray release, see the Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on November 22, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis
Director: Paul McGuigan
» See full cast & crew
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray Review
If you look away for a moment, you might miss something.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, November 22, 2009
Quentin Tarantino deserves credit for a new style of filmmaking that focuses on dialogue above all else. His ability to simply sit back with the camera rolling and let characters carry on with pointless (yet poignant) conversations is a tactic Hollywood's still adjusting to. Sometimes he shows too much comfort in extended dialogue (Death Proof), assuming his fans appreciate his cleverness as much as he does, but when he manages to rein himself in he produces some of the best scripts in the business. 2006 marked the entry of a new storyteller with similarities to Tarantino. The man I'm referring to is Jason Smilovic (better known for his work as a television writer), and the story he dreamed up is called Lucky Number Slevin. Directed by Paul McGuigan, the film was produced by the Weinstein brothers (long-time Tarantino collaborators), and contained one of the greatest ensemble casts in recent history. It continues to baffle me that the film didn't perform better at the box office, but at least I'm content in knowing it continues to acquire a healthy cult following on home video.
Sleven Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) has landed himself in a bit of a predicament. While staying with a friend of his in New York City, he's paid a visit by two goons working for a man known as The Boss (Morgan Freeman). He soon learns his friend owed $96,000 to a man who owed money to The Boss, but can no longer repay his debt after winding up dead. Kelevra is unsuccessful at convincing The Boss he's not the man they are looking for, and ends up agreeing to kill the son of a rival mafia boss in exchange for his own life. To go back a little, this feud between the two rival leaders began when they were partners and extends over the course of the past twenty years. During those years since their falling out, neither man has left the safety of his own penthouse apartment (located just across the street from one another). The most recent assignment from The Boss stems from the assassination of his son, which he blames on his former partner, The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). After accepting the task of killing a man he doesn't even know, Kelevra finds himself in the watchful eye of The Rabbi, who proposes his own deal, involving Kelevra taking out The Boss. Thrust from his ordinary life into the midst of a mafia feud that dates back two decades, the simple case of mistaken identity has a low probability of turning out well.
The first time I watched Lucky Number Slevin, I happened to pick up the film simply based on the actors adorning the cover of the rental case. I figured I'd selected a typical run-of-the-mill action flick, offering 90 minutes of brainless gun battles and chest-thumping one-liners. However, by the time the credits rolled, I was left speechless, wondering how in the world I could have been so wrong. As I mentioned in the introduction to this review, Lucky Number Slevin is one of the greatest stories I've seen in the past decade, simply because the writing is so concise and well thought out, that upon the film's conclusion, you'll feel compelled to start it over from the beginning (hoping to catch everything you missed). There are literally so many twists and turns during the first hour of the film (which seems conventional on your first viewing), that it takes the last twenty minutes to wrap up everybody's motivations and side-dealings. I know I didn't delve into the role Bruce Willis plays in the film during the synopsis, but that's simply because his character has one of the greatest "gotcha" moments in recent film history. That early revelation regarding his character lays the groundwork for every twist through the rest of the film, and caught me completely off guard on my first viewing. In all honesty, the less you know going into Lucky Number Slevin, the better your experience will be.
It's not often you find a film with three members of Hollywood's acting elite, but somehow the producers of Lucky Number Slevin managed to cast Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, and Bruce Willis in the same feature. The three actors don't share a heavy load in the film's runtime (that honor is bestowed on Josh Hartnett), but they all deliver the same level of exceptional work we've seen time and time again. Likewise, I found Hartnett's performance surprisingly effective, given some of the weak parts he's taken over the years (Pearl Harbor comes immediately to mind). In his role as Slevin Kelevra, he hits every intended note, balancing precariously between comically aloof and deceptively calculated. I hope Hartnett continues to take more challenging roles in the years to come, since the spark he shows in Lucky Number Slevin demonstrates a great deal of potential. Rounding out the main cast, we have Lucy Liu as Kelevra's girlfriend. I wasn't nearly as impressed with Liu's performance here, but she's not given as much opportunity to shine. She still delivers some difficult discourse with Hartnett in an early scene of cat and mouse, but tends to be relegated to the background through the rest of the film.
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 37Mbps), Lucky Number Slevin looks outstanding on Blu-ray. Despite the stylized cinematography by Peter Sova, fine object detail offers exceptional clarity through the duration of the feature, highlighting textures on the surface of wall decorations, fabric, and the faces of the aging ensemble cast. Even distant shots of the dueling towers that house The Boss and The Rabbi contain fine lines without an ounce of smearing, making it appear as if you're looking through a window. From a color standpoint, the film contains a natural palette during present-day sequences, and a heavily filtered spectrum in flashbacks (adding to the stylized nature of the visuals). I never felt the hues appeared overly-saturated or garish, creating a visual experience that never fails to impress. Likewise, the combination of deep blacks and stellar contrast create an almost three-dimensional level of layering, allowing the well-lit portion of the foreground to stand out against the darker shades of the background.
All in all, this is one of the better transfers I've witnessed on the Blu-ray format, and deserves a spot in the collection of any videophile with an eye for detail.
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Adding to the stellar video presentation, the audio on this Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is well above average when stacked up next to its peers. It would be easy to lump Lucky Number Slevin into the action category (given the high body count and well-staged gun battles), but it's the more subtle aspects of the track that rise to the surface as the story continues. In that regard, I'd have to say the best aspect of the audio presentation is the delivery of dialogue, which requires perfect volume balance and clarity to appropriately convey the layered discourse between actors. As I said earlier in the review, this is a talkative experience from start to finish, so even a slight breakdown in the audio proficiency of the dialogue could have been disastrous. That's not to say the track doesn't also deliver the goods when it comes to surround separation during the fast-paced action sequences. There's a wonderful scene at the very beginning of the film where the musical arrangement lulls us into a state of calm, only to snap us into the action with two crisp gun blasts. The effect will likely cause 50% of viewers to jump out of their seats (with popcorn flying), and that's exactly what I look for in a stellar audio presentation.
The nature of the material won't make this a demo-worthy disc, but the collective proficiency of the various elements in the mix provides a wonderful experience that's not to be missed.
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Making Lucky Number Slevin (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 13:19 min): This marketing-oriented featurette includes interviews with the cast, crew, director, writer, and producer. Most of the discussion revolves around the actors in the film and their experiences working together. Interspersed between the interview clips are behind-the-scenes moments on various sets.
Intimate Conversation with Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 14:27 min): Hartnett and Liu participate in a candid discussion of their characters, and how they became involved in the film. Hartnett struggles to maintain focus and appears to be a bit of a ham (though he does have a great deal of admiration for the iconic actors in the ensemble cast).
Deleted Scenes (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 20:32 min): Easily the best supplement on the disc, this collection of deleted scenes contains some hilarious moments that were regrettable trimmed from the film. The longest clip in this 20 minute collection is an alternate ending which delves deeper into the relationship between The Boss and The Rabbi. Viewers have the option of watching the deleted scenes with or without a director's commentary.
Rounding out the extras, we have a high definition trailer for Lucky Number Slevin, and two feature-length audio commentary tracks (one with director Paul McGuigan and the other with Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, and writer Jason Smilovic).
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Lucky Number Slevin is a rare cinematic masterpiece that deserves a spot on the shelf of any Blu-ray enthusiast. With a layered plot full of twists and turns, stellar acting from the ensemble cast, and above-average production values, the film should hold up to the test of time and emerge as one of the greatest films of the current decade. From a technical standpoint, I have absolutely zero complaints with this early release from the Weinstein Company, and hope to see more high-quality Blu-rays courtesy of their studio. Highly recommended.
Lucky Number Slevin Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Lucky Number Slevin Coming to Blu-ray - September 24, 2008
In an early announcement to retailers, The Weinstein Company has revealed that they will bring 'Lucky Number Slevin' to Blu-ray on November 18th. As this is an unofficial announcement, no technical specs or special features have been announced at this time. You ...
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