Sleepless Blu-ray Review
Sleepless is clearly Jamie Foxx's attempt at a Taken franchise, delivering strong action and taut pacing, and just about rising above its otherwise DTV status.Foxx plays Vincent Downs, a deep undercover cop playing corrupt cop to get to some head honchos in a Vegas drug operation which involves Dermot Mulroney's shady casino owner and Scoot McNairy's son of a major kingpin. Things get complicated when Michelle Monaghan's dogged Internal Affairs detective starts sniffing around, and utterly messy when Downs' son gets kidnapped by the drug dealers. Substituting a daughter for a son, Sleepless looks little more than a Vegas-set Taken on paper, but the fact its a remake of a superior French thriller, Nuit Blanche, gives it an identity of its own, even if plot reveals which would have been better left understated rob it of some degree of surprise.Ultimately, its real limitations come from the strangest corners - the Vegas setting offers up a welcome change, but the restrictions to a trio of key locations within a single Casino set leave the film feeling unnecessarily low budget; and the actor who plays Downs' son needs some serious coaching, which is a problem given the central part he plays. Foxx himself commits to the action with aplomb, but it's more than a little frustrating that his (cop) character - complete with bleeding knife wound - seems incapable of picking up any weapon discarded from his foes until the final act. Still, that leaves for refreshingly brutal, unpredictable fight scenes, which stand out in the otherwise standard DTV fare.
Picture QualityA solid if unexceptional presentation
Sleepless wakes up on Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One, who deliver a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Dark and gritty, the film doesn't make for easy demo material, but the rendition provides a competent and faithful representation, promoting decent skin textures, clothing weaves, and background flourishes, which lap up the grimy urban environment and dirty shadows. There's some softness around the edges, but little in the way of overt criticisms, with a sheen of grain that is thankfully fairly organic. The colour scheme is somewhat restricted by the dour, dark style, but provides decent tones and capable black levels which seldom dip into crush, rounding off a solid if unexceptional presentation.
Sound QualityThe dialogue problems are almost fatal, with synch issues just the nail in the coffin of what is a flawed audio presentation
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also a solid affair, but for a curious problem with the dialogue. First the good stuff. The score is a boisterous, intense affair, maintaining tension and propelling the action sequences, offered up with a firm LFE edge and giving the surrounds plenty of fuel. The effects frequently involve ballistics, which thunder out across the stage and boom through your living room. Shotguns, handguns and assault rifles blast across through the environment and gain great surround coverage with surprisingly adept dynamics on offer.
Unfortunately, Sleepless appears hobbled even before it gets started, with the dialogue, arguably one of the most important elements - even in such an action-driven affair - at times utterly incomprehensible. Almost entirely relating to Foxx's spoken words, there's certainly a mumbling quality to his dialogue which isn't conducive towards aural clarity, but there's also clearly something amiss with the track itself, as no matter how high you turn the volume up, it's almost impossible to grasp every word he speaks. Curiously, things take one step forward and two steps back as the film progresses, with a slight but still noticeable slip in lip-synch coming around the same time the dialogue suddenly becomes a little clearer; perhaps a holdover of some heavy ADR work, or perhaps just lazy pressing. As stated, the dialogue shouldn't be a deal-breaker in an action film, which makes it all the more surprising that the problems are so noticeable that they actually take you out of the film a several key points. It doesn't help that the primary focus is the lead character's spoken words, leaving the dialogue problems almost fatal, with the synch issues just the nail in the coffin of what is a fundamentally flawed audio presentation.
ExtrasThere's nothing particularly substantial on offer here, but a 5 minute overview Making-of Featurette and a further 5 minutes of Deleted Scenes mean it isn't quite bare bones, rounded off with a few Trailers.
Blu-ray VerdictThe unpredictable fight scenes stand out in this otherwise standard DTV fare
It's hard to see how this competent but unexceptional remake of the superior French thriller Nuit Blanche is ever really going to be the making of a Taken-style franchise for Jamie Foxx, but the curiously open-ended final scene suggests that this is precisely what the filmmakers intended from the outset. Unfortunately its Box Office performance and critical reception suggests that any sequel would likely not even get made, let alone escape being actual DTV fare like this narrowly did.
Entertainment One's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release affords the actioner decent enough video, a smattering of extras, but a fatally flawed audio track which delivers - at times - incomprehensible dialogue, and - at other times - frustrating lip synch issues. It's a shame, because the film is otherwise a reasonably efficient little actioner.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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