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Review: Sleepless

Sleepless
4 10

Sleepless movie review Jamie Foxx Michelle Monaghan remake

PLOT: An unethical cop only has a few hours to rescue his son from the ruthless gangsters he recently stole drugs from.

REVIEW: I haven't seen SLEEPLESS NIGHT, the 2011 French film SLEEPLESS is a remake of, but now I feel I must. I'd like to see a good version of this story. There's obviously fun to be had with the concept, which sees a possibly dirty cop frantically search for his kidnapped son over the period of a few hours while a million forces conspire against him, but director Baran Odar and screenwriter Andrea Berloff can't manage to make this as entertaining as it should be. While the movie is, on a very basic level, watchable, it's never rousing enough to get us truly invested. It's like a streetfight between two drunks that mildly grabs your interest but never becomes the full-blown brawl that would stop you in your tracks. (A messy analogy, sure, but one that well summarizes my feelings toward this clumsy film.)

One problem with SLEEPLESS is that it's never quite dark enough. Its hero, Vincent (Jamie Foxx), is a cop who we see hijacking drugs and murdering thugs in the first five minutes of the film. He seems pretty shady, and at first it's refreshing to have a protagonist who is not a "good guy" in the traditional sense. But this being a Hollywood effort, Vincent is ultimately stripped of all that edge and given attributes that make him just another boring hero. If SLEEPLESS had stuck to its guns, made him a bad guy up against worse guys, it might have set the stage for quite a different piece movie. Like everything else, though, the creative forces involved are content to make the main character as unimaginative as can be. (I really have to wonder if this was a role originally meant for Liam Neeson, since SLEEPLESS does everything in its power to mimic his TAKEN series.)

Sleepless movie review Jamie Foxx Michelle Monaghan remake

The hectic picture gets underway when Vincent and his corrupt partner Cass (T.I.) steal a shipment of cocaine from a sleazy casino owner (Dermot Mulroney) who in turn owes it to a hard-boiled gangster named Novak (Scoot McNairy), a psycho on the top of Las Vegas' PD's Most Wanted list. Novak is not a forgiving guy, so the casino owner goes to extreme measures to get his drugs back: he kidnaps Vincent's son (Octavius J. Johnson) and holds him hostage in his casino. Having been stabbed during the kidnapping, Vincent is obviously willing to part with the drugs during what should be a simple transaction. But dogged internal affairs cop Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) sneakily absconds with the dope after following him, leaving Vincent empty-handed and desperately running around the joint to try to find his son and the drugs, in no particular order.

SLEEPLESS keeps things moving at a fast pace, bouncing from one frenetic scene to another as Vincent fights the casino owner's henchmen, attempts to hide his bloody wound, does about five costume changes, reunites with his son, get separated from his son, finds the drugs, loses the drugs, and so on. But none of this is very exciting. Vincent's many fistfights are shot in the same overwrought style as those in the TAKEN flicks, with Vincent shockingly capable of kicking ass even while he slowly bleeds to death. When movies like THE RAID 2 show us just how mesmerizing a fight scene can be when executed well, something like SLEEPLESS feels downright pedestrian. The only stimulating sequence is a brief tussle with Monaghan's character, as she proves up to the task of going toe to toe with Vincent in a suite-destroying bout. That scene has a bit of the wild excitement the rest of the film sorely needs. SLEEPLESS never fully embraces the lunacy of its plot; it could have played things in a darkly funny manner, as Vincent finds himself thwarted over and over again, continuously battered and freaked out, but Odar is only interested in giving us a meat and potatoes thriller, all business and no pleasure.

Foxx is fine in the role; his toughness is believable and he commands our attention easily. That said, Vincent isn't a very charismatic person, and he goes through no visible catharsis throughout the film as his plight intensifies. As is, he's a stale character at the beginning and he's a stale character at the end. On the other hand, Monaghan is quite enjoyable in a rudimentary tough female cop role; she actually exudes such intensity that you find yourself wishing she was the protagonist instead of Foxx. (When is Monaghan going to start receiving roles she actually deserves?) The bad guys are passable without being particularly memorable: Mulroney plays his weasily character well, while McNairy seems just unhinged enough to make Novak a formidable presence. Still, no one will be mistaking these two for classic villains anytime soon.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess SLEEPLESS NIGHT has all of the ingredients the remake is missing: humor, spiritedness, vivid urgency and palpable danger. SLEEPLESS ends up being exactly what you'd expect: the inferior Hollywood version with all the hard edges smoothed over.

Source: JoBlo.com

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