It’s January, where we’re getting awesome movies going into wide release but we’re also getting not-so-great movies being released that are just kind of … thrown out there. Sleepless received very little fanfare, as if the studio just wanted this done with. Is that attitude justified?
In our very first scene, we meet Vincent (Jamie Foxx) who is a dirty cop, involved with a shootout and the theft of some cocaine. It turns out this cocaine belonged to someone very powerful. Foxx isn’t alone, his partner is involved as well (played by musician T.I.). Now, folks want their cocaine back, so they kidnap Vin’s son (Octavius J. Johnson) and hold him in a casino until their drugs are returned. We have two Internal Affairs officers trying to track down Vin (Michelle Monaghan and David Harbour) and plenty of bad guys looking to stop him as well (headlined by Scoot McNairy and Dermot Mulroney). Vincent also has an ex-wife (Gabrielle Union) who shows up periodically.
This movie isn’t offensively bad. It’s got some decent action sequences, though they’re surprisingly rare. The action we do get is pretty gritty and shot fine, better than some other movies in this genre. The problem is just the quantity, there isn’t enough action to really make this movie stand out.
The performances are over-the-top but it works with this genre. Foxx is fine, doing his best stoic Jason Statham impression here. The highlight is probably Scoot McNairy as an unhinged villain who just wants his drugs back.
Again, this is all fine. The movie isn’t bad.
What doesn’t work?
The movie isn’t good either.
The problem is that we’ve literally seen all of this before. It’s got a dose of Taken mixed with something like S.W.A.T., that genre of police drama where you’re always questioning who is dirty. Those movies succeeded because they had excellent action and chase scenes and it was rewarding. This movie is almost boring, with only a few action scenes I can even remember. It’s all set in one casino for 90% of the movie, which really hinders our ability to see anything new. The movie is just slow and when we do get a fight scene, it’s short and Foxx clearly isn’t in his wheelhouse here, with quick edits everywhere.
So the Taken part of this fails. Liam was like taking out tons of folks easily, whereas Foxx goes 1 on 1 most of the time and tends to get beaten in those encounters.
The police drama side of this story doesn’t really succeed either. The actual plot of the story is overcomplicated by constant reveals and twists that you start to get numb to it. So it’s not like we sacrificed action for an enthralling story. We don’t really get either.
In terms of writing, a lot fails here as well. Our characters make decisions that will have you laugh out loud. Our villain doesn’t want to get caught yet constantly shoots up crowded places and raises red flags. Our hero is trying to be stealthy but always reveals himself to the villains in order to trigger a chase sequence. The action takes precedent over the plot making sense, but the action isn’t worth that sacrifice.
This movie is a clone of many other movies and it doesn’t pull it off. The biggest crime is a nonsensical story and absolute lack of captivating action sequences. Its lack of scope causes the movie to feel stagnant and the characters choices become laughable. Again, it’s not bad, but there are far better movies to see right now.