An almost-entertaining and instantly forgettable B-movie
Jamie Foxx stars as an undercover cop who has one night to rescue his son, redeem his reputation and bring down a criminal organisation – if he can stay awake, that is.Let me put this out there right away: Sleepless isn’t quite bad enough to be really entertaining. It’s nowhere near good enough to be a memorable heist/police/corruption thriller either. Foxx stars as Vincent Downs, a police officer who, for some reason or other, decides to steal a load of cocaine, which in turn gets his son kidnapped, which in turn means Vincent has to go on a night-long crime-fight to save his son and bring the kidnappers to justice.Or something like that. The plot gets a bit lost in the incredibly loud soundtrack and unintelligible mass of unnecessary secondary characters, and after a while it’s quite monotonous and the title starts to feel like a masterpiece of irony. There’s a lot of really intense fighting, with a particularly manic scene in a kitchen proving a highlight, but not much else. In fact you might need some of the coke Vincent stole to stay awake during this film.
Sleepless is a remake of a 2001 French film by Frederic Jardin, and the screenwriters haven't made too many changes apart from the language and the location. Foxx is brooding and grunting as Downs, who spends pretty much the whole film miraculously upright despite suffering serious injuries. It’s quite easy to forget Foxx is an Academy Award-winner here – the film isn’t light enough to let his usual charisma shine through, nor is it thrilling enough for him to be a bona fide action hero. There’s a lot of dark mumbling and high-speed fighting and that’s about it.
The plot is basically Taken meets literally any other film about drugs, the mob or the police
There are some enjoyable performances in the rest of the cast – Scoot McNairy is an entertainingly unpredictable baddie, Michelle Monaghan is a very strong and serious Internal Affairs officer, and Gabrielle Union is relatable, likeable and completely underused as Downs’s ex-wife. It’s an almost-entertaining B-movie: it’s the sort of film that you might watch to unwind on a Friday night and then forget all about on Saturday morning. It’s been done before, and better. The plot is very much secondary to the non-stop action, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given that the plot is basically Taken meets literally any other film about drugs, the mob or the police.
There are a few genuinely inventive moments from director Baran bo Odar – look out for the lethal kitchen utensils and the sparkling champagne – but these are completely overshadowed by the non-descript casino where most of the film takes place, the dark lingering shots and the increasingly frustrating plot. It’s a completely average action-movie with a plot that falls short and that doesn’t make good enough use of Foxx, Monaghan or Union’s talents (one major conclusion should be that Monaghan deserves much bigger roles than she’s getting).
Sleepless isn’t a total snoozefest, but it’s not exactly caffeinated either.
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