THE STORY – Undercover Las Vegas police officer Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) finds himself caught in a high-stakes web of corrupt cops, internal affairs and murderous gangsters. When a failed heist leads to the kidnapping of his teenage son, Downs must race against time during a wild and restless night to save him and bring the criminals to justice.
THE CAST – Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, T.I., Gabrielle Union, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour & Scoot McNairy
THE TEAM – Baran bo Ordar (Director) & Andrea Berloff (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 95 Minutes
By Matt N.
After sitting through an hour and a half of “Sleepless” it becomes extremely clear by the end that writer Andrea Berloff and director Baran bo Odor want this to become the next action hero franchise much in the same vein as “Taken” or “John Wick.” This Jamie Foxx led vehicle is nowhere near the quality of those two films, as it lacks the campiness of “John Wick” and the sheer overall quality of story and character found within “Taken.” There are some positive moments here and there such as the fight choreography during a few scenes and a fun performance from Scoot McNairy as a foreign crime boss who will stop at nothing to see his drugs returned to him.
Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) is a police detective, who along with his partner Sean Cass (T.I.), get involved in a heist that results in the acquisition of over 25 kilos of cocaine. The cocaine belongs to Casino owner Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) who needs to hand it over to the Novak crime family led by the ruthless Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy). Stanley has his men kidnap Vincent’s son as insurance to ensure that Vincent returns the cocaine back in time before the deal is supposed to take place at the casino later that evening. Hot on Vincent’s heels are two cops from internal affairs (Michelle Monaghan & David Harbour) who suspect him of being dirty and get caught in the middle of the drug deal during this one evening.
Straight away from the very beginning, the editing of “Sleepless” is probably its most jarring aspect. Jittery and too quick, there are more than a few edits in this film that ruin its quality and break whatever spell it is trying to cast over its audience desperately trying to convince us that this is a good movie. If you’re looking for a slightly fun action film that takes itself a little too seriously at times that manages to make you turn your brain off for an hour and a half, then you’ll probably be more forgiving. The film wastes no time throwing us into the story and it does not do the best job of setting up what will surely be the worst day of Vincent Downs’s life. While there are no set pieces that are particularly memorable, there is a few hand to hand fight scenes that are elaborately choreographed and surprisingly energizing for a film that is lacking in almost all other areas.
Jamie Foxx is simply not the right person for a role such as this. While he certainly looks tough, he’s instead presented as a normal everyday guy who doesn’t possess any special abilities when it comes to fighting, shooting or really much of anything, other than being voted the worst father of the year. What he does not possess and what this film lacks is any appearance of comedy. It’s a feature that helped to make John McClain such a relatable everyday hero and Foxx does not convey this quality to help make him more likable. As a result, we get an average action thriller with average performances from everyone else, including a tough as nails Michelle Monaghan and David Harbour. Scoot McNairy however, proves to us all why he is still one of the best character actors in the game as he exudes menace and chilling unpredictability as Rob Novak. He’s the only saving grace of this film’s cast as he doesn’t overplay the role and appears to be the only one well aware of what kind of film “Sleepless” should have been.
“Sleepless” is nothing special. It thinks it is and that is its downfall. The story is too tight for its own good, not allowing us to know what kind of a character Vincent Downs is. When we are thrown into one day of his life and are expected to have sympathy for him, the filmmakers don’t give us enough to actually care. I’m sure there will probably be a sequel to this lifeless film. However, it does not deserve one, as I for one, will not have any sleepless nights thinking about “Sleepless” and its impending sequel.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Fight choreography is better than average. Scoot McNairy proves to be a terrifying villain.
THE BAD – Bland story that is trying desperately to be the next action franchise