“Sleepless” is a stale, visually displeasing start to the new year

Image result for sleepless movie poster“Sleepless”

Vincent Downs (Foxx) is a crooked cop in the Las Vegas Police Department along with his partner Sean Cass (rapper T.I.).  After one of their heists goes awry, they not only have to control the crime scene, headed by FBI Vice Agent Jennifer Bryant (Monaghan), but also return the 25 kilos to their rightful owner: casino owner Stanley Rubino (Mulroney), who has kidnapped Downs’ teenage son.  It is at this point in the picture that all comprehension and cohesion disappears, if there was any at all to begin with.

The movie features not one but two drug kingpins.  One drug lord is buying cocaine from the other to cover a shortage that somehow threatens their stronghold on the Canadian market.  Also, Downs isn’t the only one with a secret.  There are more double crosses and triple crosses here than on the first draft of any screenplay.  It gets to be too much and is not worth the trouble.

Visually, Sleepless is a mess from the start.  The opening scene features shaky-cam so wobbly I wondered if it was filmed in an earthquake.  The faces of the two officers are obscured by the blurs of the camera movements, ruining any chance at making a good first impression.  In another action sequence featuring Downs and the main bodyguard of one the drug lords, Foxx is slammed into a table or a floor thrice.  Each time, the camera tilts in such a way that Foxx stays vertical in the frame.  I mean, I guess the film is named ‘SLEEPLESS’, right?  About 80% of the movie takes place in a dark, bland casino.  There is not one single shot that sparked any sort of positive response.  I did have a drink when I got home thanks to all the perfectly illuminated Bud Light bottles at the bar.

I’ve seen Jamie Foxx be a great actor before.  Sleepless is not one of those movies.  He walks around like he doesn’t want to be on the set.  For most of the runtime, he grunts his lines.  This is especially obvious when he’s with his partner, T.I., who himself is not exactly Mr. Charisma.  Monaghan and her partner David Harbour have nice chemistry in their scenes but that doesn’t mean much.  Dermot Mulroney is his usual solid self behind a goatee that doesn’t fit and Scoot McNairy is quite menacing while rattling off his ridiculous, sinister dialogue.  Gabrielle Union, who needs to hire a new agent, is trapped in the clichéd ex-wife/mother role, which only requires her to be in seven scenes, five of which she’s just on the phone with Foxx asking about their son.

Sleepless is about as intense as watching four-year-olds play Candy Land.  At a “brisk” 94 minutes, which features a cliffhanger ending with a character reveal with an actor I don’t know who hadn’t been in the entire movie up to now, you can tell director Baron bo Odar (English-language debut) had a much grander movie in mind but Sleepless is just a failure.

1 out of 5