Lucky Number Slevin

If Pulp Fiction impregnated The Usual Suspects, the spawn would look a lot like Lucky Number Slevin. Great genes, but you keep wondering when the kid is going to grow up and find an identity of his own. Fractured story lines fight for prominence as Slevin (Josh Hartnett) hits New York and winds up being mistaken for a friend that two crime kingpins, the Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and the Boss (Morgan Freeman), want to see dead. Ironically, they both hire the same hit man, Goodkat (Bruce Willis persuasively doing Bruce Willis), to off him. Hartnett plays half the film clad only in a towel, a distraction for Lindsey (Lucy Liu), the girl next door, not to mention critics — straight and gay — who might otherwise find fault with his acting. Actually, the performances are juicy, with Freeman and Kingsley hamming it up royally during a double-torture scene. But that's getting too deep into the plot, which is the film's downfall. Director Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park) keeps the blood splashing. But the convoluted ain't-I-clever script by Jason Smilovic has a cheat ending that makes you want to do a little torturing yourself. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Peter Travers' new book, "1,000 Best Movies on DVD" is available now.

From The Archives Issue 311: February 21, 1980