Film: Lucky Number Slevin
Slevin: This isn't the first time this has happened...
Lindsey: You mean this isn't the first time a crime lord asked you to kill the gay son of a rival gangster to pay off a debt that belongs to your friend whose place you're staying in as a result of losing your job, your apartment, and finding your girlfriend in bed with another guy?
Slevin: No, this is the first time that happened.
A 2006 Black Comedy Thriller
mixed with Film Noir
style, Lucky Number Slevin
(released, bizarrely, as The Wrong Man
only in Australia) The film features an all-star cast comprised of Josh Hartnett
, Lucy Liu
, Ben Kingsley
, Morgan Freeman
, and Bruce Willis
The movie opens with Smith
telling a stranger of a Kansas City Shuffle
, recounting of an old horse race where a trainer tries to fix a race with a "drugstore handicap".note
He tells a friend, who tells a friend, before it soon hits a family man Max; betting huge cash he doesn't have, Max then watches in horror when the horse breaks its leg on the home stretch. The bookie's associates decide to make an example of Max, beating and suffocating him after having hitmen murder his wife and son. Ending the story, Smith clarifies that the story itself isn't a shuffle, and points off to the man's left; slipping to the right, Smith breaks his neck.
Meanwhile, an everyman named Slevin has just moved to New York City to stay at his buddy Nick's house after a week of misfortune. After meeting his quirky neighbor Lindsey, Slevin finds himself taken in by two groups of thugs: the first belonging to "The Boss", a gangster demanding payment on $96,000 of debt; and the second The Boss' nemesis, "The Rabbi", who also wants debts paying, which total $33,000. Owing a vast amount to both with little time to pay, compounded with the fact neither entertaining the idea he isn't Nick, Slevin then
finds himself trapped further when The Boss offers to wipe the larger debt provided he assassinate The Rabbi's son. Of course, things get worse when it's clear Smith is somehow tied into it all, and everyone seems to have their own motives...
Borrowing heavily from several sources, such as Tarantino
storytelling (e.g. inconsistent ordering
) and Hitchcock
plots (most notably North By Northwest
), Lucky Number Slevin
was received well enough to be a Cult Classic
of sorts, despite a cold critical reception
. The movie is notable as the final film to co-star Bruce Willis with hair, and is the Trope Namer
for Kansas City Shuffle
through one its songs (and a murderous tactic by Willis' character).
Lucky Number Slevin provides examples of the following tropes:
open/close all folders
- Danger Takes a Backseat: Detective Brikowski is killed in this matter.
- Deadpan Snarker: Slevin to a T. The Boss even mentions it: "Bet you it was that mouth that got you that [broken] nose." He claims that he has a condition that prevents him from taking anything seriously or worrying.
- Department of Redundancy Department: When Slevin first meets The Boss:
The Boss: Do you know what I wanted to see you about?
The Boss: Then how do you know I have the wrong guy?
Slevin: Because I'm not—
The Boss: Maybe I wanted to give you $96,000; in that case, do I still have the wrong guy?
Slevin: Do you want to give me $96,000?
The Boss: No, do you want to give me $96,000?
Slevin: No, should I?
The Boss: I don't know, should you?
Slevin: I don't know, should I?
- Dirty Cop: Detective Brikowski.
- Divide and Conquer: Slevin had been playing a con the entire movie to kill both the mob bosses by setting them against each other. He also puts himself in the middle of it by appearing like a harmless bystander, but eventually he gets his revenge for the murder of his parents, two decades in the making.
- Downer Ending: The alternate ending on the DVD where Lindsey dies would count.
- Dramatic Irony: When you watch the movie a second time, pay attention to everything The Boss and The Rabbi say.
- Dungeon Bypass: Touched upon by The Fairy's bodyguards; they are in the next room, but they come through the (false) wall. However, Goodkat realizes that this is where they would come in, noticing that the wall is thin by the noise they make next door, and is able to ambush them.
- Dumb Muscle: Slow. He and Elvis even discuss it in a deleted scene.
- The Ending Changes Everything: Detective Brikowski reacts rather interestingly whenever Goodkat is mentioned. And look at Slevin reacting to the Boss calling himself a nice guy or hiding the fact that he is an assassin by saying, "I uh, I travel a lot."
- Even Evil Has Standards: The mob have to bring in a specialist hitman because no one is willing to kill an innocent child. Turns out the hitman was not keen on the idea either...
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Boss, The Rabbi, The Fairy, and Goodkat.
- Fanservice: Josh Hartnett spends a good portion of the movie wearing nothing but a towel.
- Flirting Under Fire: Slevin and Lindsey build up most of their romance in this manner. Despite the fact that Slevin is on the hit list of two warring gangs, he and Lindsey find time to flirt, go to dinner (where Slevin is able to shadow a man he has been told to kill), and spend a night together.
- Foreshadowing: Slevin carries out his assassination mission with more effectiveness than The Everyman should, with easily spotting The Fairy's bodyguards and eluding them to get a date with him. That and his ability to communicate with extremely dangerous crime-bosses and withstand intimidation from the police is indicative of some experience with organized crime.
- Slevin's precise read on his initial approach to The Fairy while he and Lindsey are having dinner also counts.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: A very cool, blink and you'll miss it moment - Goodkat and Slevin are looking for a common denominator between the Boss and the Rabbi. After Slevin hands the book off he sinks into a very casual, but still obvious Parade Rest/Stand at Ease sort of position, seemingly almost out of habit. That scene and his posture tell you everything you need to know about their relationship, assassin mentor and his apprentice.
- Gambit Roulette: Several points in the plan are up to chance, most particularly The Boss picking a hitman who hasn't worked the city in question for years to do the deed. The plan where Slevin is counting on Goodkat not checking if Lindsey is dead. That Slevin would be able to pay his debt to the Rabbi in person, at night. Certainly, measures were taken to skew the probabilities in their favor, but none of it was guaranteed from the outset.
- Gayngster: The Fairy.
- Genki Girl: Lindsay is adorable.
- Guns Akimbo: Goodkat — just look at the image for this page. He makes short work of The Fairy's bodyguards this way.
- Henway: One of The Fairy's body guards makes a couple of these in a deleted scene.
"What's a whoredo?"
"She has sex with you for money!"
- Hitman with a Heart:
- Mr. Goodkat was the contract killer whom the bosses hired to kill little Slevin. Goodkat couldn't go through with it, and raised the kid in his own trade so that one day he could get his revenge.
- Slevin himself is revealed to have become an assassin under Goodkat's mantle, but he's actually a pretty nice guy off the clock, such that nobody suspects him until it's too late.
- Improvised Weapon: The killer in the opening sequence kills a bookie by throwing a baseball. Into his eye.
- In the Style of...: The lightning-fast dialogue with constant references to other films and tv shows can't fail to make one think of Tarantino.
- Kansas City Shuffle: Trope Namer.
- Kosher Nostra: The Rabbi's gang.
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: The Boss, The Rabbi, and Detective Brikowski.
- Letters 2 Numbers: The second "L" in the title is an upside down 7, though how we're supposed to pronounce that is anyone's guess. Lucky Number Su-sevin, perhaps?
- May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar??: Lindsay is introduced to the main character in this fashion. For a little twist, she borrows not only the sugar, but also the cup to carry it in.
- Lucky Charms Title: Marketed occasionally as Lucky # Slevin (see the picture) or Lucky Number Sㄥevin
- Lucky Seven: Referenced in the movie title, which is a pun on the phrase and the main character's name.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: "It can't look like a hit."
- Mamet Speak: Very common, such as when Slevin recognizes Slim Hopkins in the paper:
Lindsey: What is it?
Slevin: I know this guy.
Slevin: This guy.
Lindsey: You know that guy?
Slevin: I met him. He was dead.
Lindsey: You met a dead guy?
Slevin: Yeah, in a walk-in freezer.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lindsay. Subverted in that Slevin turns out not to be The Every Man who needs a "kick" in his boring life.
- Manipulative Bastard: Almost everyone.
- Market-Based Title: In Australia, it was released as The Wrong Man. The Portuguese title is Xeque-Mate(Checkmate).
- May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?: Lindsay is introduced to Slevin in this fashion. For a little twist, she borrows not only the sugar, but also the cup to carry it in.
- Meaningful Name:
- Meaningful Echo: Brikowski mentions that Slevin should play ball, and he Literal Minded-ly remarks "You think I'm tall enough?"; later, it's revealed that Slevin literally plays ball when he murders a bookie with a thrown baseball.
- Mob War: Between the Boss and the Rabbi. It has escalated to the point where neither can leave his penthouse for fear of being executed by the other.
- Mood Whiplash: Almost every scene in this movie flips between deathly serious and absolutely hilarious; few scenes fall between the two extremes, and the film makes a point out of transitioning between these moods in an abrupt manner.
- Mossad: Yitzhak, the Rabbi's son, has a pair of ex-Mossad bodyguards.