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Zero out of Slevin

JANUARY 27, 2007 – So, we renew our membership at Alliance Atlantis, to secure free parking for the year and a 15 per cent discount at Il Fornello’s – and we get a free DVD – “Lucky Number Slevin.”[1] Unlucky us.

I’ve trolled the Internet, and checked out a few of the reviews. It’s supposed to be a “film noir” thriller. A movie that makes you think. It’s a movie that makes you think that our society is really sick. The gratuitous violence is non-stop. But that seems to, now, go without saying in what passes for “entertainment” from the capitalist movie machine. It’s the character portrayals that are really sickening.

There’s one female of significance, Lucy Liu. Her character, alas, is just a little too shallow for the 21st century. Whatever happened to the women’s movement?

And then there are the four male leads. Like Liu, they are all excellent at their craft – they are real actors. Josh Hartnett and Bruce Willis are two white guys. They are really, really bad white guys. They are really, really good at killing and tormenting people. But they’re white, you see. They get a pass. Hartnett gets to have a love interest.

Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley aren’t so lucky. Freeman is black. He plays a black guy. Kingsley is part Jewish, part Indian. He plays a Jewish guy. This black man and this “rabbi” you see, run the underworld in New York. They’re bad – really bad. Except, unlike the white baddies – they stay bad – and they get what they deserve in the end, so that we can all feel good – all us hard done by white guys.

Because the tortured theme – to the extent there is a theme – seems to be that this black guy and this Jewish guy showed up in New York in 1979 and took over the underworld. Life was never the same for the white guys. But don’t worry. One of the really, really bad white guys – the baddest guy you’ll ever meet – reaches into their crime world and saves another white guy – and in the end, these really bad white guys get to both a) get even and b) show they actually do have souls – they will go to heaven.

Not like the black guy – and the Jewish guy. No white guy romance for them. No happy ending. They don’t get the girl. They get what they deserve. And we can all go home, fingers sticky from popcorn and coke, and think that we’ve seen some really, great, complicated art.

News flash – it’s been done before – racial stereotyping, that is. This movie gets a zero out of Slevin.

© 2007 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] Paul McGuigan, Lucky Number Slevin (Ascendant Pictures, 2006).

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