Sleepless Review

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Much like the car chases that adorn this Baran bo Odar thriller Sleepless, there’s no denying that this unforgiving production runs at an incredibly fast pace – yet, also like the aforementioned sequences, doesn’t really seem to know where it’s going. With a myriad of plot holes, it’s a film you might not want to take at face value, with an injection of irreverence, and a playful nature that just about lets it off the hook. Just.

With the famous, vibrant Las Vegas landscape serving as a consistent backdrop, beyond the indelible, colourful aesthetic is a city protected by a police force that boasts a number of corrupt cops, and Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) is out to uncover them. One of which is Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) who becomes unwittingly embroiled in a dark web of criminality when he is convinced by partner Sean (T.I.) to steal copious amount of narcotics. Problem isn’t with the execution of the endeavour, but more who they were stealing from – as it attracts the unwanted attention of the power crime-lord Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) and the volatile, dangerous Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy). Their first target is Vincent’s son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), who they abduct – leaving this one man on a mission of vengeance, with only aim being that his son is returned – in one piece.

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While the story has a whole host of issues for viewer’s to wrestle with, the action sequences are where this title comes to life, with a distinctively immersive approach taken by the director, who really places the viewer in the heart of the battle. Not just from a visual standpoint (the camera work is effective in this regard), but the sound too, as every gun shot is deafening. Plus, like any good thriller of this nature, we require an antihero to invest in, a flawed, imperfect cop with an inclination to not play by the rules. Thankfully, we’re in luck – and Vincent is a role brought to life emphatically by the persistently impressive Foxx.

The actor is let down by a mediocre, generic screenplay however, which is emblematic of a film that seems too happy to merely settle for b-movie status, abiding faithfully to the tropes of the genre at hand, and while affectionately doing so, that doesn’t make it any less tedious. Sleepless is a film that doesn’t seem to want to transcend genre expectations – which is a huge shame, for given the cast assembled, and the compelling narrative, complete with several twists and turns along the way, there really was potential here to be a much better film than the one we’re indulging in.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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