Sleepless Review: A Stupid Fun Action Packed Mess of a Film.
Sleepless was my first screening of 2017 and a film that I knew very little about before seeing it. All I knew about Sleepless was that it was based on a French film named Sleepless Night which premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival where it received rave reviews. The American remake stars Jamie Foxx as Vincent Downs, a Las Vegas cop working undercover to take down crooked cops involved in covering up drug deals throughout the city.
The film opens up with Vincent and his partner Sean (T.I.) stealing a shipment of cocaine worth about eight million dollars on the street. Vincent and Sean steal the cocaine from Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), the owner of the Luxus Hotel and Casino who just so happens to sell drugs on the side. Once news gets out that the cocaine has been stolen, a drug kingpin named Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy) gets involved and sends his henchmen to kidnap Vincent’s son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson). Now, Vincent must attempt to keep his cover and outsmart Rubino and Novak to get his son back.
The plot of Sleepless is one that audiences have seen time and time again. The entire film revolves around crooked cops, drugs dealers, and shady casino owners. With so much praise given to the original, I was shocked to see how uninspired and lazy this remake was. It was short of shocking to learn that Andrea Berloff wrote the script. Berloff wrote World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton, and Blood Father and each one of those films have an interesting and well-constructed story with well-rounded characters. I can’t help but wonder what the hell happened with Sleepless because there was very little about the script that was good. It was almost like Berloff never even watched the original film to see why it was praised by critics and audiences in the first place.
The vast majority of Sleepless takes place inside a casino which doesn’t have the same effect that the nightclub setting found in the original. It doesn’t help that casinos are like the go-to setting for a lot of American action films. The writer and director do nothing unique with the setting that would put this film apart from previous films. It’s a shame because the film does have some exciting moments but the writing and performances are so bad that what seems like a great action moment quickly becomes laughably bad. One of the scenes in particular that stood out is the kitchen scene. This scene starts off with some awesome action but then Vincent’s son Thomas begins to fight the henchman as well. It becomes so pathetic that I couldn’t help but burst into laughter about midway through. I could not believe that the director or the actors thought that the scene was a good idea.
To make matters even worse, the character development is non-existent. Foxx and T.I are barely shown together even though they are supposed to be partners. Foxx and Thomas have no chemistry whatsoever, so it is impossible to believe that they are father and son. Speaking of Thomas, his performance is so piss poor. He portrays such a whiny and unlikable character. McNairy is so over the top and one dimensional as the ruthless drug kingpin. It became hilarious to watch McNairy because all his character did was scream that it became unintentionally funny. Michelle Monaghan does her best to get the most out of the little she is given, but again, there isn’t enough here to make anyone care about her character.
The film also introduces characters such as Dena (Gabrielle Union) that are just there to move the story along for convenience rather than substance. The fact that Dena and Vincent are divorced means nothing yet the film introduces it as though it is an important plot point. What makes this scenario even worse is that Dena and Vincent barely interact throughout the film. Vincent shows up at Dena’s work to pick up Thomas. They argue, and Vincent quickly leaves. Dena calls Vincent two more times throughout the film. It is during these one-minute scenes where she learns that Thomas has gone missing yet somehow between the initial argument and two phone calls, Dena manages to forget that she is engaged to another man and calls Vincent “babe.” Don’t even get me started on the way that Dena shows up near the end and how awful that scene is.
Even though the film lacks originality, decent performances, and an interesting story, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it was entertaining from time to time and that some of the action sequences are well shot and choreographed. There is no shaky cam, and the action scenes are all clean and fun to watch. It seemed like director Baran bo Odar knows how to make a great looking action film; he just needed a good script to go along with it.
All in all, Sleepless is honestly one of those films that belong in the category “it is so bad, it’s good.” The film is so ridiculous and lazy that you can’t help but be entertained by it. It is one of those films that thankfully I saw with a rowdy audience that just got so into the film. They were constantly calling out what was going to happen next and screaming jokes because of how stupid some of the scenes were. This is the type of movie that doesn’t achieve anything that it sets out to do but instead becomes an unintelligently funny mess that is best viewed with a group of friends while being intoxicated.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Sleepless is a 4 out of 10.