Russian names abound and director Paul McGuigan (working with Harnett again after Wicker Park) sets the action in a heavy-hued cityscape where lurid timewarp décor and Ruski rhythms complement the quirky-jokey feel. As much black comedy as twisty thriller, Slevin has a kookie, uneasy edge – part intentional and part, you suspect, not. Slickly-shot visuals and smooth camerawork add a treacly sheen. The starry names act up well, below pantomime but with a tinge of the comic-book. Harnett is great, cruising on charm and flashes of talent. And with his stoney-face and mouth-lines, Bruce Willis has the distinct air of Droopy with handguns - adding to the tongue-in-cheek tone.
The slithery plot wends its way colourfully toward the ‘surprise’ ending. But while the reveal makes sense, it’s a tad underwhelming. More whimper than bang, the pleasure of Slevin is its sheeny gloss. It packs a few violent punches (though fewer than you’d expect for an 18 cert) and has a breezily lippy script. But in the end, this is Harnett’s film, with Willis, Freeman, Kingsley and an underused Stanley Tucci adding a gilt-edge to an otherwise coppery caper.