Lucky Number Slevin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not without concerns, the transfer seemed consistently satisfying.
A few issues came from sharpness. Wide shots occasionally looked a bit soft and ill-defined, but those instances didn’t occur frequently. The majority of the flick offered good clarity and delineation. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jagged edges, and virtually no source defects presented themselves.
Slevin went with a moderately stylized palette. The colors were a little on the desaturated side, but they usually appeared fairly natural. The DVD replicated the tones with good vivacity, and they seemed to fit well with the visual design. Blacks were rich and tight, while shadows seemed clear and appropriately visible. The softness caused a few distractions, but otherwise I found no reason to complain about this transfer.
I also thought that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Lucky Number Slevin proved effective. Much of the time the soundfield remained fairly subdued. It usually went with general environmental information and also added good stereo imaging for the music. Occasionally it kicked into higher gear, though, and those scenes added punch. For instance, the storm segment early in the film used all five speakers well, and a few other louder pieces were successful. This wasn’t an incredibly active mix, but it spread out when necessary.
Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Music was tight and lively, and the score also showed good range. Effects presented accurate elements that were clear and concise. Bass response appeared deep and powerful at times. This was a strong mix.
A mix of extras round out the package. We get two separate audio commentaries. The feature offers a solo track with director Paul McGuignan as he presents a running, screen-specific chat. He starts with notes about how he came onto the film and what he wanted to do with the opening credits. From there we hear about cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and visual goals, set and costume design, editing, deleted/alternate sequences and other production topics.
Though McGuigan starts off full force, he tends to drag a little as the track progresses. However, this is a minor complaint that arises more out of slight disappointment; he opens so well that it leads us to hope the commentary will be consistently excellent. It’s not, but it remains quite engaging and informative; it’s definitely an above average discussion.
For the second piece, we hear from actors Josh Hartnett and Lucy Liu and writer Jason Smilovic. Hartnett and Liu sit together for a running, screen-specific chat; Smilovic does his own track and gets his comments edited into the actors’ piece. The commentary looks at the goals for the script and the specificity of its language, shooting specifics, costumes and many character issues, dialogue details, story and plot aims, inspirations and influences for the movie’s events, performance reflections and a mix of general topics.
I always fear the worst from actor commentaries, as they usually tell us little. This one proves pretty good, largely due to the nice chemistry between Hartnett and Liu. He does most of the work and provides the lion’s share of the information, but she makes things lively and adds zest to the chat. Smilovic includes many fine notes about his work, and the two commentaries mesh smoothly. This is an interesting and useful track.
Four Deleted Scenes last a total of 20 minutes and 34 seconds. These include “Elvis and Sloe” (7:15), “The Bodyguards’ Story” (4:27), “The Rabbi and the Boss – Extended Scene” (8:00) and “Alternate Ending” (0:51). Most deleted scenes suck. Surprisingly, these do not. All are quite interesting, though I understand why the filmmakers cut most of them. “Sloe” and “Story” are fun but would’ve really dragged in the final product. The “Alternate Ending” is significantly darker than the actual conclusion. Only the extended “Boss” should’ve stayed; we need as much Freeman/Kingsley as possible.
Except for “Boss”, we can watch these with or without commentary from McGuignan. He covers production details and lets us know why the scenes were trimmed or cut. McGuignan gives us the appropriate info in this worthwhile chat.
A featurette called Making Lucky Number Slevin runs 13 minutes, 19 seconds and presents movie snippets, behind the scenes materials and interviews. We hear from Hartnett, Smilovic, McGuigan, Liu, producer Tyler Mitchell, and actors Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, and Ben Kingsley. We get notes about the script’s path to the screen, the cast, the characters and the story.
For the most part, “Making” falls into the same bland category as most promotional featurettes. A few good notes emerge, but it’s pretty general. However, some of the shots from the set redeem the piece, especially when Willis jokes with Freeman. (I especially like “You were good in Se7en - crabby, but good!”)
Finally, the set includes the theatrical trailer for Slevin. Ads for Killshot, The Protector, Clerks II, Pulse, Scary Movie 4 and ESPN Home Entertainment open the DVD.
With a truly excellent cast and a potentially intriguing premise, Lucky Number Slevin could have been a winner. Unfortunately, it concerns itself with twists and turns and rarely bothers to become anything more than a Tarantino imitation. The DVD presents very good picture and audio along with some useful extras; I especially like the very strong commentaries. Despite its flaws, Slevin entertains, so it may merit a rental. Just don’t expect a lot from it.