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Lucky Number Slevin
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie includes multiple violent scenes (shooting, neck- and nose-breaking, fighting, knifing, smothering in plastic wrap), as well as one flashback where a young boy sees his father killed by a hitman (the shooting is off-screen, the boy's stunned and frightened reaction is visible). Most characters are professional thugs and killers, gamblers, and con-men. One female character works in a morgue, where a burned corpse is visible (close-up of the grisly arm). Characters curse frequently, drink occasionally, and a few scenes display or insinuate sexual activity. None of the characters provides an admirable role model; some are cleverer than others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Slevin (Josh Hartnett) leaves his unfaithful girlfriend and takes up residence in a friend's New York City apartment. Soon, Slevin finds himself mixed up in a war between two criminal kingpins: the Boss (Morgan Freeman) and Schlomo (Ben Kingsley), also called the Rabbi. They despise one another, share a history of violence and revenge, and live in stunning penthouse apartments facing one another across the street. And they think Slevin is "Nick," who owes $96,000 in gambling money, and before you can say "North by Northwest," Slevin is faced with impossible choices. The Boss invites Slevin-as-Nick to erase the debt by killing Schlomo's gay son (retaliation for a previous murder). And everyone is under the mostly misinformed scrutiny of muttery Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci).
Is it any good?
Proudly clever, LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN sets up a range of characters for collisions and takedowns. At the center is Slevin, partly lucky, partly ingenious, mostly Josh Hartnett, with scruffy hair, bared torso, and eyes slightly squinty as he peers at the camera, inviting you to guess what he's thinking. At a train station, Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis) tells Slevin (Josh Hartnett) a story about cheats, killers, and gamblers, with a lesson on what he calls the "Kansas City shuffle," which he describes thusly: "It's when everybody looks right and you go left." Check. Lucky Number Slevin is a caper movie, with tricks and turns and characters who aren't who they seem.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the strong bond between the father-figure and his protégé. You might also discuss the risks of gambling (on anything), and the suggestion here that a "sure thing" (like the central, meticulously detailed revenge plot) might be possible. What do you make of Schlomo's assertion that "People are never happy with what they have, they want what they had or what somebody else has"?
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