Wednesday, January 25, 2017



Starring: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Scott McNairy, Octavius J. Johnson, David Harbour, T.I., Gabrielle Union

Rated R for Strong Violence and Language Throughout

I'm going to make a mental note and reserve a spot for "Sleepless" on my Bottom 10 of 2017.  With its pedestrian direction, flat performances, and cocaine-addled camera, there's nowhere else it could end up.  If there are 10 movies between now and December 31 that are worse, well, it's going to be a very long year.

The film opens with a duo of corrupt cops, Vincent Downs (Foxx) and Sean Cass (T.I.) stealing a considerable amount of cocaine.  What they don't know is that they've stolen it from casino mogul Stanley Rubino (Mulroney), who is moving it for the notorious Novak family.  Rubino has Vincent's son Thomas (Johnson) kidnapped, the message being the obvious one: deliver the coke or else.  But Rubino is sweating bullets too; the Novaks have sent the boss's son, the psychopathic Ron (McNairy), to make sure nothing else goes wrong.  Meanwhile, there's a cop on Vincent's trail, the tough-as-nails Jennifer Bryant (Monaghan).  She knows Vincent's dirty, and sees an opportunity to take down Vincent, Cass, Rubino and the entire Novak family in one night.  But there's something about Vincent that she doesn't know, which could change everything.

"Sleepless" is meant to be a simple adrenaline cocktail and nothing more.  It's not meant to break box office records, win Oscars, or end up on any "Best Of" lists.  Either you buy into it or you don't.  There's nothing wrong with that, provided that it does its job.  However, it doesn't.  This is as lame, boring and dumb action movie as any I've seen in a long time.  Perhaps they named this movie ironically, since most of the audience will be asleep by the end of the first reel.

Jamie Foxx can be a riveting actor when he works at it.  "Dreamgirls," "The Soloist," "Any Given Sunday," the list goes on.  He even won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles (I haven't seen the movie yet, though).  But here, he is definitely not working at it.  He's not even coasting through his role.  Foxx seems to know this movie is crap and is intent on sabotaging it in any way he can.  Maybe someone has pictures of him that he would like to keep private.  His co-star, Michelle Monaghan, is quite effective.  Although I am a huge fan of the actress, I wasn't convinced she had the presence to play an action heroine.  I was wrong.  Monaghan gathers the requisite intensity and knows how to kick ass.  If there's any reason to see this movie (and there aren't many), it's to see her fight like a mad woman.  Veteran nice guy Dermot Mulroney has no trouble playing a sleazebag, acting as the one sane voice in the asylum.  If he were the main villain, I might have liked the movie more.  But alas, the color goes to Scoot McNairy, who is just awful as the mobster's son.  McNairy was lovable in a low-key fashion in "Monsters," but he's a character actor.  His attempts to act intense are entirely unconvincing.  A Labrador is more threatening.

This is a remake of the French thriller "Sleepless Night," which I'm sure no one on this side of the Atlantic has ever heard of.  I suppose it could be fun, in a "Shoot 'Em Up" meets "The Departed" sort of way.  It has the action and plot necessary for a movie that never stands still.  However, while there's a lot going on and the film never slows down, it never draws us in.  When I saw the camera go into an epileptic seizure during the first shoot out, I groaned.  Yes, it's one of those movies.  I didn't necessarily tune out, but the film never regained my attention.

There are some moments of action that are delightfully brutal and at least the plot doesn't end at the pitch stage.  But with a cast that includes great talents like Foxx and Moynihan, surely they could have put in more effort.  This movie isn't worthy of their talents.  Or your time.

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