By Chaz Lipp
The Lowdown: Low on ambition, high on trashy thrills, this crime thriller is a fun, brainless way to pass an hour-and-a-half.
Sleepless is a fast-paced blast of down-and-dirty fun that packs in plenty of bloody action and plot twists in 95 minutes. Director Baran bo Odar aims for gut-level thrills and nothing more. This isn’t a ‘thinking person’s’ action flick—in fact, viewers are advised to shut down all analytical thought process and go along for the ride. The film actually has a respectable pedigree: Oscar winner Jamie Foxx heads up the cast and screenwriter Andrea Berloff was Oscar-nominated last year for Straight Outta Compton. But no one is trying to win any awards with this one, which is fine because Sleepless is considerably more entertaining than much of what is currently in theaters.
Vincent Downs (Foxx) is a morally ambiguous Las Vegas cop who’s under the close watch of Internal Affairs agent Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan). Bryant has no hard evidence against him, just a gut feeling that Downs is dirty. Her partner Doug Dennison (David Harbour) is more skeptical—in Sleepless‘ world, Vegas is crawling with dirty cops. Dennison seems content not to rock the boat. But Bryant is clearly onto something. When we first meet Downs, he and partner Sean Cass (T.I.) are robbing some 23 kilos of premium cocaine in the midst of a high speed car chase.
Turns out they stole from the wrong guys. Luxus casino owner Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney, channeling Robert Downey Jr.) was set to deliver the coke to Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy), a scary enforcer forever trying to impress his crime boss father. Rubino’s goons manage to nab Downs’ son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), sending Downs scrambling to return the stolen merch. Bryant and Dennison are hot on Downs’ trail.
Meanwhile Downs’ ex-wife Dena (Gabrielle Union) becomes increasingly concerned about their son’s whereabouts. Though badly injured after being stabbed during Thomas’ abduction, Downs must take on casino pit bosses and Novak’s men during a cat-and-mouse game that covers every nook and cranny of the Luxus.
Yes, that’s a lot of plot summary but there’s nothing much else to talk about. Sleepless is an effective potboiler without any higher ambitions. Director bo Odar’s job was to pack as many shootouts, car chases, and fist fights as he could into 95 minutes. If the above summary doesn’t trip your trigger, Sleepless probably isn’t the flick for you. Some of the inconsistencies are laughable—Downs’ debilitating stab wound leaves him staggering at times, but unaffected whenever he needs to kick ass. Again, just chuckle along with it and take Sleepless for what it is.
(Note: Sleepless is a remake of an acclaimed 2011 French film, Sleepless Night, that I’ve not seen and therefore cannot make any comparisons.)
Sleepless images: Open Road Films