Lucky Number Slevin (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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Not so long ago Paul McGuigan made a very good film, Gangster No 1, that set him apart from the lock, stock and babble of the British crime flick. Now he's gone to the US to see if he can repeat the trick.

Josh Hartnett stars as Slevin, who no sooner arrives in New York than he's in deep with two criminal kingpins ("Sir" Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman) who have mistaken him for a low-life debtor, and troubles begin to mount up thicker than rats on a corpse.

McGuigan and his writer Jason Smilovic owe a few debts of their own, notably to Tarantino for the jesting philosophical talk and pop-culture riffs, and to The Usual Suspects for its deep-layered plottiness. Lucy Liu as a foxy coroner and Bruce Willis as a shady assassin intensify the Tarantinoid mood of the proceedings. Sadly, its narrative misdirections irritate rather than intrigue, and the brutal revenge killings that constitute its climax are poor reward for the ponderous waiting game that's gone before.

As for Hartnett, his expressive range is no more satisfying than it was in McGuigan's last picture, Wicker Park.