January 17, 2017

Movie Review: Sleepless (2017)

It’s January again. You know, that time of year when expanding Oscar-bait movies fight for theaters against a wave of cheap and/or low expectation titles at the local cinema. It is a feast or famine month, depending on your point of view. I decided to take a shot with an early 2017 release that has a little star power in its favor, with Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, and Dermot Mulroney on the cast listing. The movie is called Sleepless, and, to be honest, when I first saw the trailer, it felt like a lot of movies that have come before it. With that said, I was pretty sure what to expect going in, and I was not disappointed. Well, maybe I was.

Sleepless (a title that doesn’t seem to refer to anything in the movie) is a remake of the 2011 French film Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night). Helming the American version is Swiss director Baran bo Odar, making his Hollywood debut. The screenplay was adapted by Andrea Berloff who had a hand in writing recent films like Blood Father and Straight Outta Compton. Their finished product has a certain slickness to it, but is ultimately forgettable and, dare I say, pointless.

The movie starts off by tossing us right into the thick of things. Two men in masks are pursuing a van through the streets of Las Vegas. It ultimately ends in a shootout between the occupants of the two vehicles. Before long the masked men are revealed to be Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) and Sean Cass (TI). They get their target, a large duffle bag, and make their getaway before the cops arrive. As it turns out they are also cops, of the dirty variety. They also manage to get the assignment to investigate the shootout they were in. How convenient.

As the tale progresses, we learn the bag has over twenty kilos of coke that was to be delivered to a powerful crime boss, Novak (Scoot McNairy), by a casino manager (Dermot Mulroney). Of course, when bad guys are crossed, bad things happen, this includes the kidnapping of Downes’ son as a means to get their coke back. Nothing can ever go easily, though, can it? On top of this, Downes has to deal with a pair of Internal Affairs officers (Michelle Monaghan, David Harbour) investigating the shooting.

The movie is packed into the time span of a day, so there is little room to breathe, what with the constant chases, shootouts and fistfights that litter its 95-minute run time. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for things like character development. Don’t get me wrong, they try, but the problem is some big reveals are handled as throwaway lines, or are delivered in such a way that I was left wondering why they chose to do it there. It was weird, like they were shooting and realized they forgot an important piece and just decided to wedge it in. Not to mention the twists revealed during the climactic hunt/shootout that feel like they are out of left field.

Sleepless is not a terrible movie, it is just one that feels underwritten and overshot. It is entertaining in the moment, but reveals itself as ultimately forgettable. And if the movie isn’t forgettable enough, it ends on something of a cliffhanger. I can forgive the mediocre nature of the film, but to end it that way just annoyed me to no end. This is not a movie that deserves a sequel, much less an open ending. They really should have just resolved it and been done with it.

I don’t know, I feel like I’ve spent more time on this movie than it deserves. Again, excepting that awful ending, the movie entertained enough and delivered some decent action. It just isn’t going to be remembered come 2 months down the road. Skip it, you really aren’t missing much.

Not Recommended.

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