April 17, 2006 12:00 PM

Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Ben Kingsley


Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Usual Suspects (1995) have a lot to answer for. More than a decade after their release, the influence of both movies still hangs heavy upon any number of self-consciously clever crime films, the giveaway markers being tricky-twisty plots and hipper-than-hip tough-guy dialogue. Add Lucky Number Slevin to the list. When Fiction and Suspects first came out, both packed a punch. Not so Slevin. This is a derivative, empty suit of a movie constructed out of sharkskin silk; it’s shiny and sleek, but there’s no heft to it.

Our hero is a towel-clad wiseacre named Slevin (Hartnett), who, due to a case of mistaken identity, is caught in the middle of a nasty war between two gangland kingpins (Freeman and Kingsley). Everyone gabs a lot, not everyone is who they seem, and copious blood is gleefully shed.

Enjoying showy turns, a capable cast of actors wraps their tongues around big chunks of ornate dialogue. But nothing really is at stake, so Slevin plus all this talent adds up to nothing but wasted hot air. (R)

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