'Sleepless' - Review - Chris at the Pictures

Thursday, 11 May 2017

'Sleepless' - Review

★ ★ ½ ☆ 

The second of this month’s films with an ill-advised and easily mocked title is this middle-of-the-road thriller remake starring Jamie Foxx. Based upon the moderately acclaimed Nuit Blanche¸ Sleepless sees deep cover cop Vincent Downs (Foxx) scouring a Las Vegas hotel in search of his kidnapped son after a drugs theft goes awry. The highly-coveted hoard sees Downs caught between two criminal big shots (Dermot Mulroney and Scoot McNairy) and pursued by plucky internal affairs officer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan).

Foxx gives a very toothy performance here; lots of spitting, gritting and grimacing. Far from the adrenaline-fuelled fear of losing his son, Foxx appears to be in desperate need of root canal. None of that can take away from the fact that we’ve seen him give far better performances in similar fare (and similar roles, come to that), and this inherent goodwill is what ignites the merest semblance of interest in Downs’ story.

Said narrative is bookended efficiently enough (the opening sequence and final showdown are uncomplicated and tightly constructed), but everything in-between is dragged down by more subplots than is good for any thriller. Corruption, double-crosses, underlying father-son troubles; it’s all here. One imagines the filmmakers have pretentions towards something in the vein of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, having given the film a faux-Johan Johansson score and a female lead on the tail of corruption, but both fall flat. The music is overbearing in the extreme, and though we’re undeniably more interested in what Monaghan’s getting up to, her character is written laughably thin.

Equally two-dimensional but substantially more fun is McNairy and his array of ball-themed threats. In his quest to appear scary, his slimy baddie employs golf, baseball, human testicles and an oversized grenade launcher that releases huge clouds of white…well, you get the idea.

The other performances aren’t exactly bad, they’re just sort of…there. A single exception is made for Gabrielle Union as Downs’ estranged wife, who is resoundingly poor. Still, the cinematography’s not half bad, while an unnecessary sequel setup raises a titter over an eye-roll. The whole thing seemed to go down rather well with an audience seeking a breather between space-bound superheroes and boss babies.