Movie Review: 'Sleepless'
Opened: 6 May 2017 (UK)
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, T.I., Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy
Director: Baran bo Odar
Producers: Roy Lee, Adam Stone
They don’t make movies like this anymore, now it’s all superheroes and giant transforming robots. Certainly no one would think to remake Die Hard without the best bits and a convoluted story about some stolen narcotics, would they?! Not only is less at stake in Sleepless, a break out movie for director Baran bo Odar, than in the Bruce Willis’ cinematic cornerstone, it also boasts an unsympathetic hero and villains who spend most the time threatening each other. There is a formulaic feeling to Sleepless, a set-them-up and knock-them-down game of gangster dominos, where all the concerns of the story are resolved in the final act.
Opening with swift and efficient storytelling the action quickly reaches a hostage situation in a Vegas Casino where undercover cop Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) finds himself fighting off mobsters, and colleagues, in a race to save his son. The status quo is maintained for most of the 95 minute run time. So full of complications, double crosses and interventions is the pursuit around the casino, that the story would have made a much better 12 episode TV series. It’s an implausible cat and mouse chase around the towering casino, that manages to keep its head above the depths of banality thanks to some strong performances from Michelle Monaghan (Internal Affairs investigator Jennifer Bryant), Scott McNairy (scary and ruthless junior Mafioso Rob Novak) and Octavius J. Johnson (Downs’ son Thomas). Johnson is one to watch, he really shines in what is a small supporting role.
Sadly, the movie’s formula and the large cast leave some characters underdeveloped and woefully underused. T.I.’s corrupt cop Sean Cass never gets any real time to shine, which is a real pity because he is magnetic on screen. Jamie Foxx is a great lead but although he brings a lot of weight to Vincent, he doesn’t draw out our sympathy like we need him to.
As a showcase for the director’s talents Sleepless is a knockout because it contains elements of a few different genres and styles. This does not translate well for the audience, as we are left to guess if we are watching gritty real life or blockbuster action fun. One thing is for certain though, everyone in Vegas has a gun in their glove compartment and is cool in a firefight, even the medical staff.
The industry needs filmmakers to be producing good quality movies like Sleepless, that re-explore genres outside sci-fi and comic books but, as decent as it is, this is not the one to lead the charge.