like the superhero or regular-guy-turn-superhero genre, i thought i was done with the post-tarantino crime movies featuring colorful/pop culture referencing genre. the guy ritchies, joe carnahans and the boondock saints of the world are enough reasons to turn that genre off for good.
not only does lucky number sLevin has BRUCE in it, but according to imdb it’s also a crime movie inspired by the yojimbo narrative device. it’s also a movie that i have at home on and off since it came out on dvd but never got around to it until now. it seems like a good time to complete the cycle now that i’ve watched last man standing.
although the yojimbo influence has been greatly exaggerated. you may at first worry, and i know i was, about the trajectory of going from toshiro mifune to clint eastwood to BRUCE to josh hartnett. but he’s actually pretty proper in the part as the newcomer in town caught between two gangs, but i’ve only seen him in a starring role in michael bay’s pearl harbor, so maybe that’s not saying much. it’s 7ucky that the film is a modern day crime noir though, i don’t think he’d be as good if the movie is a western, or a samurai movie.
and the yojimbo elements kind of ends there. they kind of successfully added another layer of the story into the yojimbo story. this is one of those movies where they less you know beforehand, the more you’ll enjoy it, especially who plays which part.
another worry you may have, and i had before the movie, was the post-tarantino dialogues where every character has something clever to say and unlimited pop culture references. i seriously thought i was done with those when the 90s ends but somehow it kind of works in this movie. granted, they are not as clever as they think they are, but it didn’t annoy me as much as say, snatch, or smoking aces.
i’m not exactly sure why the dialogues work here but didn’t in the others. it’s prossible that it’s better written here than those other ones. but mostly, i think it’s the performances. while hartnett is surprisingly good, they managed to get ben kingsley, morgan freeman, stanley tucci, BRUCE, and lucy lui, who for a change plays a more eccentric quirky girl-next-door type (literally) instead of her usual growling (been watching ally mcbeal with my girlfriend) dominatrix type. robert forster also has a cameo late in the movie as an exposition device, i don’t know if it’s a tribute to jackie brown or the gus van sant “scene by scene” remake of psycho. there’s also a danny aiello cameo in flashback, which earns a point from me for being what i think is the first hudson hawk reunion, even though i don’t think he has any scenes with BRUCE.
BRUCE of course, is being BRUCE. there’s a kind of authority whenever he’s on screen, a commanding performance if you will. and he holds his own against sir ben kingsley and morgan freeman. though as much as i am okay with set up/setup, i do hope he doesn’t do too much of these kind of supporting roles cause they are threading too close to a direct to video career.
in addition to yojimbo and post-tarantino, there’s also a bit of the usual suspect and the professional, a bit of scorsese in the beginning and a dash of the mamet con movies thrown in. it also helps that there are some humor and romance thrown in, and they actually work.
though i like the movie as a whole, there are certainly a few faults. right from the beginning, the film seems to be more interested in keeping you guessing than telling a story. it does that by withholding information so that they can be revealed later as a twist. and then after every twist, we are shown flashback of an earlier scene with a tad bit more information until the end when the whole puzzle is revealed.
but that is not as big as a problem as the third act. watching it for the first time, i had already figured out who’s who in the flashback and kind of knew what’s going on but it still takes the movie half an hour to wrap up. and then they decided to add even more twists to the preceding scenes that kind of make you question the logic and believability of the movie as a whole. witness the overlong scene between kingsley and freeman, which is more about the fact that the two of them are acting against each other than servicing the movie as a whole. to further prove this point, my disc was actually skipping so i had to skip a chapter the first time i watched it yet the movie still feels long. when i clean the disc and watch it a second time, i don’t think i got any new information or missed anything by skipping a chapter.
it is still kind of a miracle though, that a seemingly 90s post-tarantino humorous crime noir not only doesn’t annoy me but is overall quite enjoyable. 15 minutes shorter and lose the over explanations and it would have been great. as it stands, it’s a bit better than most post-tarantino crime movies, certainly better than red. quite unfortunate that red somehow became a blockbuster but sLevin kind of flopped and forgotten.
p.s. writer jason smilovic was apparently josh hartnett’s roommate, which explains hartnett being half naked for half the movie. he also has a hand in tv’s karen sisco starring carla gugino, based on the elmore leonard novels. jennifer lopez plays the character in the movie out of sight. all of which are things i love. scottish director paul mcguigan previously directed hartnett in wicker park, and also gangster no. 1 and push (the one starring dakota fanning and captain america/human torch not based on the novel by sapphire).
lucky #/number sLevin is currently not available on netflix instant.