Sleepless
2 stars
Director: Baran bo Odar
Stars: Jamie Foxx, T.I., Michelle Monaghan
Duration: 89 mins
Class: 15
KRS Releasing Ltd

Jamie Foxx stars as Vegas cop Vincent Downs and Michelle Monaghan as internal affairs investigator Jennifer Bryant who suspects he is up to no good in Sleepless, a by-the-numbers thriller that takes place over one night, during which, as the film’s title helpfully implies, no one gets much sleep.

Bryant’s suspicions are not completely unfounded. Downs and his partner Cass have stolen 25 kilos of cocaine from crooked casino boss Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), who in turn had to hand it over to drug kingpin (Scoot McNairy). When Rubino realises Downs has his drugs, he kidnaps Downs’ son as a bargaining tool. Downs is prepared to give the drugs back in exchange for his son… but Bryant’s pursuit of him puts a spanner in the works and things go belly-up in a rather dramatic and bloody fashion.

Those who need more out of their action fix... will soon find tedium in the narrative

If there is one thing going for Sleepless it is the relentless energy that drives the film forward, to the point that if you let it sweep you up, you won’t notice the lack of depth in both plot and characterisation or the fact that the real bad guy – I guess it’s no spoiler to say that Foxx’s character is not really crooked – is evident from the get-go. But those who need more out of their action fix will soon find that the kinetic energy that pulsates off the screen in synch with the bright lights, crowded streets, and vibrant casinos (the story is set in Las Vegas) will soon find tedium in the unfolding narrative.

As a story it is hackneyed and predictable… the rather lazy script padded with elaborate action-filled set pieces as Downs attempts to solve his predicament while roving from Rubino’s swish penthouse offices down to the casino’s kitchens and restrooms, causing mayhem – and leaving behind a rising body count – along the way.

All the while defying all the laws of medicine as he bleeds profusely through a large gaping gut wound that at best comes off as a minor annoyance and at worst a tad painful. Some moments are too preposterous to believe.

The film is based on a 2012 French action-thriller Nuit Blanche, which was critically acclaimed and seemed ripe for an American remake, which, however from what I can see, stripped out all the fun and thrills from the original.

Within the ensemble of actors, it is Foxx and Monaghan who come off best, mining more out of the material than is offered them by the script written by Andrea Berloff. Despite the flimsy characterisation which gives him not much by way of personality save for perennial grimacing and grunting, Foxx displays an admirable dogged grit as he struggles to get his son to safety while fobbing off bad guys of all shapes and sizes.

Monaghan’s Bryant is behind him every step of the way as she tries to convince her sceptical partner of Downs’ guilt.  As written, the character can’t escape the stereotype of the ‘tough female cop’. Yet, Monaghan adds subtle layers, rightly bristling at being treated with kid gloves after having survived a brutal attack, while trying to convince her peers that her suspicions are not completely unfounded.

Dermot Mulroney seems to be a bit on autopilot as the smarmy casino boss finding himself way over his head, while as head bad guy, Scoot McNairy mistakes sneering for evil in an attempt to add depth to drug kingpin Rob Novak.

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