Apr 092006
Authors: Ryan Skeels

The theme for the weekend just became kick-in-the-nuts apparent to me a couple minutes before sitting down to tell you about another great movie you have to check out: stories that don’t let you know what’s really happening until the final moments of the movie. If plots that keep you puzzled until the end are your bag, then the weekend’s release of “Lucky Number Slevin” is your perfect match.

Josh Hartnett stars as the titular character Slevin and is having a case of the worst mistaken identity you can imagine. Morgan Freeman and Sir Ben Kingsley play The Boss and The Rabbi, two big, bad New York mobsters to whom some dude named Nick Fisher owes a whole lot of money.

Unfortunately for Slevin, who’s crashing at Nick’s place for a while, two of The Boss’s goons come a knocking, and don’t give two rats that Slevin isn’t Nick and hold him responsible for the debts.

Then there’s Bruce Willis, taking up the roll of the mysterious Mr. Goodkat, who’s apparently in bed with both the heads and supposed to be setting up Nick, who’s really Slevin, to take the fall for some murder raps. With his choices being what they are (pay off the debts or take a bullet to the face), Slevin has no choice but to take care of Fisher’s problems.

Aside from being more confusing then “Usual Suspects,” “Snatch” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” this flick is another edge-of-your-seater that’s almost too clever for its own good. It starts off fast and doesn’t change pace for a second, unless you count a sappy 30-second love scene with Hartnett and Lucy Liu. Yup, even Lucy Liu shows her beautiful face as Mr. Fisher’s neighbor and as someone as interested in what’s going on.

Set decorators Suzanne Cloutier and Normand Robitaille definitely need some props for a job well done. The sets were so wicked and the wall paper was so seriously sweet; if for some reason I end up with a mighty bankroll, they’re the ones I’m going to for help with my house. Bruce Willis and Josh Harnett need no hype; they’re expectedly awesome, but I’ll give ’em the high five anyway. Same with Morgan, this is a much better bad guy role than his horrid Colonel character in “Dreamcatcher.”

Even though I think it’s lame to show the audience one thing for an hour and a half and then say “Just Kidding!” at the end, I could see myself giving the evil theater folks another seven bones to catch this one on the big screen again. As they say in the movie reviewing business, this is one wild ride that won’t let you go until you spew. And that’s supposed to be a good thing.

4 out of 5 ramheads.

“Inside Man” gives Spike Jones new genre

By: Ryan Skeels

It’s hard to believe someone as crazy and out of the ordinary of a director as Spike Jones would agree to make a heist movie of any kind, let alone the nearly overdone bank robbery type. I guess it just goes to show the man is as far from tied to any genre as he could get, and is just as good at making Clive Owen into a genius criminal as he is at putting drug-induced orgies into a serial-killer flick.

“Inside Man” was released into theaters a couple of weeks ago next to “V for Vendetta,” and I, unfortunately, never got a chance to review it. Having gotten the chance this weekend, however, I’ve made the executive decision that it has to be more interesting to hear about than “Benchwarmers” and the “Sister Act 2” rip-off, “Take the Lead” could ever be. I may be wrong, but I think it’s worth the gamble.

Denzel Washington and Clive Owen take the lead roles as Detective Keith Frazier and bank robber Dalton Russell, respectively, and both offer up near nomination-worthy roles. Clive and his crew of three Steve’s calmly stroll into a New York City bank dressed as painters, pull out some always intimidating AK-47s and immediately gain control of the situation.

They announce they’re going to rob the bank and as long as everyone follows their orders no one will come out worse for the wear. The orders are a little different than most Hollywood hostage situations, however, and involve the customers and employees alike to strip to their skivvies and don a brand new painter’s outfit to match the masked men and woman. Detective Frazier is the local negotiator and is instantly on the scene barking orders and trying to make sense of the situation. From the onset, Dalton announces he arranged the perfect bank robbery and will simply stroll out the front doors once he’s good and ready, and is damn confident of following through with his word.

As with any Spike Lee film you can expect only the best of acting, cinematography, free flowing of the plot and off-the-wall shots to boot. Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe also have decent-sized roles and contribute superbly to the twisting of the plot. It also wouldn’t be a Spike Lee movie without the brilliant social and political commentary that shows its face in only the most unexpected of corners. There’s even a Grand Theft Auto spoof/commentary. Whether it’s all Spike Lee movies that get your goat or just any heist flick in general, you’re going to have to take some time and write this one into your schedule. I’d even venture to say it’s the greatest bank robbery movie to ever be released. Yes, ever.

5 out of 5 ramheads.

Ryan Skeels can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com

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