Sleepless is a new action thriller that is based on a French movie, Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche 2011), which was directed by Frederic Jardin.
The story is essentially the same in this remake. The movie opens with an action-packed heist. Two masked men are holding up a van. They steal a bag from the van, but not before the driver calls for backup – and the backup sees one of the masked men’s faces. After a shootout, the two get away, and the next morning, we learn that the men who stole the bag are cops, partners in fact, and Vincent, the one whose face was seen, offers that they pick up the case for investigation. Unfortunately for Vincent and his partner, Sean, I.A. officer Jennifer Bryant is also on the case. She’s trying to bust up a large section of dirty cops in this particular Vegas precinct.
As Vincent drives over to the hospital where his ex-wife works to pick up his son and give us some character background, we learn that Dena, his ex, is about to get married to her new boyfriend, and that Vincent has been lousy about being available for his son, Thomas. Vincent is taking Thomas to his game (honestly, we never learn what sport – so it could be anything – LaCrosse, Hockey, Water Polo, etc), he gets stopped on the road, stabbed, and the bad guys steal Thomas right out of the car. He then gets a call – it’s from Stanley Rubino, the owner/operator of the fictional Vegas casino/hotel, Luxxus. Well, Stanley is all upset because that giant back of cocaine that Vincent and Sean stole was on its way to Novak, a member of a big time crime family.
Novak is busy shooting baseballs at and then cutting out the tongue of his cousin, really just as character establishment, when he decides to head over to Stanley to collect the giant bag of drugs, which he has promised to his father to send to their distributors in Canada, which they badly need, because they just recently lost a shipment. It’s a little complicated.
In any case, Stanley tells Vincent to bring him the drugs if he wants to get his son back, Novak tells Stanley to get him the drugs if he wants to keep his tongue, and Jennifer is tailing Vincent very closely, making it difficult for him to get the drugs from Sean to hand over to Stanley in exchange for Thomas. All this sets up for a very intense evening of chases, fist fights, and gunfire, during which we learn who was really the dirty cop, who was really undercover, and where exactly the drugs end up.
Having never seen the original, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this movie going in to it. I was expecting perhaps a light action with some comedy bits. It is not that – it is absolutely a very gritty tense little thriller that is very fast paced and very R rated. Eventually, it all sort of works out okay, but it does take a while to get there. This is the first American movie by Swiss director Baran Bo Odar, and I really enjoyed the speed of it. Because it all takes place in one night, you really feel a bit worn out by the end.
- This is definitely a Jamie Foxx movie, as he plays Vincent, and carries the majority of the film. He is very good, and you do feel for him as he goes from determined and angry to panicked and desperate as the night goes on.
- Gabrielle Union plays Dena, and really doesn’t get much to do aside from yell at Vincent for disappointing her and Thomas.
- Octavius J. Johnson plays Thomas, and does a pretty god job of being kidnapped, beaten up a bit – angry at his dad, and then trying to help his dad escape. I was mystified that he had a ‘game’ to get to, which was mentioned over and over again, but I don’t recall them ever mentioning the sport at all. He had a huge bag, but we never saw what equipment was in it.
- Dermot Mulroney plays Stanley, and it was fun to see him as a slimy villain when lately he’s been all nice and helpful on Pure Genius. Unfortunately for him, I will always thing of him as Dirty Steve from Young Guns.
- Scoot McNairy plays Novak in a role that once again had me thinking, “That looks like Scoot McNairy, but I’m not sure”, which is what I think almost every time I see him. He was downright frightening in this, creepy and nasty.
- Tip T.I. Harris plays Sean Cass, Vincent’s partner, and there’s not nearly as much of him in the movie as I was expecting. He’s there at the beginning, and shows up to give the drugs back to Vincent, then shows up just at the end to bring him a uniform. He’s just fine, but again, super Atlanta, and sometimes a little tough to understand.
- Michelle Monaghan plays Jennifer Bryant, and she gets her own character development when we learn that she recently was beat up on the job, and is trying to get past it, even though everyone keeps asking her how she’s doing. She’s been working on bringing down this particular group of dirty cops for a long time, so she’s willing to break a couple of rules to get there. I thought she was very good in this, desperately determined.
- David Harbour plays Bryant’s I.A. partner Dennison who keeps trying to get her to stop overworking herself and maybe take a day or two off.
Overall, I enjoyed it, even though it was different than I was expecting. It’s short, fast, and intense – and worth renting for sure, maybe not seeing in the theater.
6 out of 10. Gained points for Scoot McNairy still being hard for me to pick out. Is he disappearing into the role, or is he just that generic looking?