There is no subtlety in Sleepless, a gritty crime thriller starring Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) and Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Almost everyone is dirty or corrupt, or both. It is simply a case of determining the wood from the chaff.
When Las Vegas cop Vincent Downs (Foxx) and his partner Sean (Tip “T.I.” Harris) rob a cocaine shipment bound for a drug-dealing casino boss (Dermot Mulroney), the desperate businessman retaliates by kidnapping Downs’ son (Octavius J. Johnson). Pursued by a dogged Internal Affairs investigator (Monaghan) and a sadistic drug kingpin (Scoot McNairy – 12 Years a Slave), Downs must rely on his street smarts and sheer force of will to rescue his child over the course of a single, long night. Foxx plays a work-obsessed undercover cop who has neglected his family only to find himself in a brutal cat and mouse game.
There are several villains in the piece here, but the most vicious is cold-blooded crime boss Rob Novak (McNairy), who is charged with running his father’s drug-dealing empire. He has a “no mercy” policy, while casino manager Stan Rubino (Mulroney) – who thinks he has everything under control, but finds out otherwise – also has a decidedly nasty streak.
Directed by Baran Bo Odar (The Silence), Sleepless is based upon the French thriller Nuit Blanche. Not long after it screened at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, executive producers Adam Stone and Alex Foster began working with Roy Lee – known for his adaptations of foreign-language films like The Departed and The Ring – to develop the story for American audiences. The producers brought in Straight Outta Compton writer Andrea Berloff to write an English-language screenplay and then approached Jamie Foxx about starring in the project.
Sleepless is action-packed, features some extreme violence and a relatively straightforward story line, which we have witnessed many times before. That last point is problematic in and of itself. It appeared to borrow heavily from what had gone before it in the same genre. Gunfights, threats, stand over tactics, brutal punch-ups, murder and drugs are the stock in trade.
Foxx, Monaghan, McNairy and co. don’t do anything wrong, but I felt the writing and execution of the script lacked a second gear. More than that, there were no surprises, so Sleepless signaled its punches, if you pardon the pun. Its greatest downfall is its predictability. Rated MA, it scores a 6 out of 10.
Director: Baran bo Odar
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour
Release Date: 16 February 2017
Rating: MA 15+
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television