Director: Baran bo Odar
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Gabrielle Union
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 23 February 2017
Synopsis: When Las Vegas cop Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) and his partner Sean rob a cocaine shipment bound for a drug-dealing casino boss, the desperate businessman retaliates by kidnapping Vincent’s son. Pursued by a dogged Internal Affairs investigator (Michelle Monaghan) and a sadistic drug kingpin, Vincent must rely on his street smarts and sheer force of will as he tries to rescue his child over the course of a single night in this gritty, action-filled thriller.
Let’s try and see if you can piece together this latest Vegas-set cop thriller. There is Jamie Foxx’s undercover detective Vincent Downs, who with his corrupt partner Sean Cass (T.I.) is seen stealing 25 kilos of cocaine from two brute-looking goons after crashing into their car and engaging in a brief shootout. There is Michelle Monaghan’s Internal Affairs officer Jennifer Bryant, who proves how indefatigable she is by telling her department psychologist to ‘go f**k herself’ when the latter shows concern about her recent assault by a junkie during a crackdown on a meth lab. There is Delmot Mulroney’s wealthy casino owner Stanley Rubino, who kidnaps Vincent’s son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson) in exchange for his return of the stolen drugs. And last but not least, there is psychotic drug lord Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy), who runs the largest drug ring operation in town with his father and whom Rubino just happens to be working for.
As assembled by writer Andrea Berloff, ‘Sleepless’ unfolds over the course of a single night in a single location – that is, Rubino’s casino – in which Vincent will desperately try to save his son while evading his pursuers on both sides of the law. Of course, convention would have it too that there will be a high-ranking police official who happens to be on Novak’s payroll, but among Vincent, Jennifer and Jennifer’s overzealous yet curiously over-cautious partner Doug Dennison, there is pretty much little doubt just who that snitch is. Indeed, while the tight time-frame and condensed plotting were certainly meant to make the proceedings much tenser, the fact that each one of the players described above are no more than rote genre elements only emphasise the story’s contrivances, which is unfortunately not helped by director Baran bo Odar’s straight-up delivery.
Oh yes, there is not a hint of self-awareness here – from the intense atmospherics intended to convey a moody panache to the heavy throbbing score meant to underscore the gravity of every single narrative development, bo Odar had clearly intended for his movie to be a weighty Michael Mann-esque thriller. Yet those hoping for the same sort of visceral thrills will be sorely disappointed, not just because the plot is so utterly by-the-numbers but also because the execution is simply lacking. Despite occasional aerial shots to establish the Strip as a glittering jewel box, the setting ends up no more than window dressing. The casino where most of the action takes place is unextraordinary. And perhaps most crucially, the action itself is either uninspiring or worse incoherent, so much so that even the two main setpieces – one that sees Foxx engaged in a kitchen fight and the other that has Foxx and Monaghan going at each other – barely raise a pulse, if even an eyebrow.
If you’ve seen the 2011 French film from which this was remade, you’ll realise how much of a travesty that is – so too did the original feature a mano-a-mano with kitchen paraphernalia, and that was a brutal and relentless sequence which was perhaps the highlight of the whole film. The fault really isn’t Foxx, who pays his dues physically but is let down by the dull choreography and disjointed editing. Even more unfortunate is how dull he comes across in the entire film, devoid of that gruff charisma in his usual cop roles. The other performers fare no better, be it Monaghan, Mulroney or McNairy, who seem to recognise the futility of putting in more than their bare minimum. The only supporting actor spared that humiliation is Gabrielle Union – who plays Vincent’s ex-wife – given how she is only occasionally seen making frantic phone calls to Vincent about their son until suddenly springing into action for a hilariously hokey conclusion.
No wonder then that ‘Sleepless’ has been pretty much moribund at the box office – not only is there nothing here that you haven’t seen before, you’ve probably seen all of it done much better elsewhere. If you’re in need for a cop thriller fix, go rent ‘Collateral’ or ‘Miami Vice’ instead, both Mann classics that had Foxx at his magnetic best. Truth be told, Foxx hasn’t had a decent role in some time – the last being the ill-fated remake of ‘Annie’ three years ago – but ‘Sleepless’ isn’t going to do his acting career any favours. Neither for that matter does this Hollywood remake do its predecessor any good; in fact, it would have done better to have left that French thriller alone, and not have sullied its name with this ignominious genre entry.
(There isn't anything here you'll seen that hasn't been done better somewhere else before, so do yourself a favour, and get some sleep instead)
Review by Gabriel Chong