Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review: Sleepless

Image courtesy of Open Road Films.
My first question is: why is the new action film starring Jaime Foxx as a cop mixed up with some nasty drug dealers and criminals whose son gets kidnapped titled "Sleepless"? The action of the film appears to be set during the course of a single day and unless the characters are, unbeknownst to us, persistent nappers, then it's unclear who is losing sleep and when.

As the film opens, Foxx's cop, Vincent Downs - who could be a dirty one or merely pretending to be one - and his partner (rapper T.I.) steal some drugs that are supposed to show up at a casino owned by a sleazy Dermot Mulrooney and then passed on to the heinous heir (Scoot McNairy) of a kingpin. Meanwhile, an ambitious internal affairs officer (Michelle Monaghan) believes that there are some shady dealings in the Las Vegas police department and she sets out to crack the case herself.

After Downs pulls off his heist, he picks up the son to whom he never pays attention - because, in these types of movies, there's always one of those - from the estranged wife (Gabrielle Union), who's tired of her ex-husband's flakiness. No sooner than Downs and his son hit the road than they are pulled over by some thugs who proceed to stab Downs and kidnap his son. The rest of the film involves the cop tracking down the villains involved in the kidnapping and attempting - but repeatedly failing after Monaghan's detective shows up at the casino, where much of the story takes place - to return the drugs.

Anybody who has seen John Carpenter's classic "They Live" will likely recall the infamously long fight scene that involved a pro wrestler, an equally imposing opponent, a pair of sunglasses and a trash can. Well, imagine that for nearly 90 minutes. Literally every time Foxx's Downs turns a corner in the casino, he finds himself in fisticuffs, whether it's with Mulrooney's beefy bouncer, Monaghan's IA agent, her partner and other random individuals mixed up in the case. Tables get broken, extras run screaming, assorted kitchen objects are used as weapons, a hot tub gets made a mess - you get the picture. Despite the film's nonstop violence, I often found myself chuckling.

Foxx has screen presence and he's a charismatic actor. So, it's a shame that his character - as well as those of virtually everyone else in the picture - are so underdeveloped that it's difficult to care much for their plights. This is a by-the-numbers action movie filled with all the cliches - both visual and in the narrative department - that you'd expect from the genre with few surprises. The picture's most mystifying element is its inexplicable title.

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