Film Review | Why Can’t I Remember Watching Sleepless?

I’m already forgetting this film. Sleepless tells the story of a heist gone wrong in such a rote way that it feels like it’s daring me to remember any of it. Sitting down to write a review of this, just over 24 hours after watching it, I feel like Guy Pearce in Memento.

From the mists of my memory of yesterday; A crooked cop (Jamie Foxx) steals drugs from the wrong guy. His son is abducted and he desperately tries to make things right as Internal Affairs track him to the Vegas Casino where the ransom deal is to be made. It’s an uninspiring if perfectly fine premise to build a movie around. The problem is that no one bothers to then build the movie around it. We have the skeletal frame of a better story here and nothing else.

The cast are all talented but the characters are paper thin. The performances are by the numbers. The action scenes are largely uninventive. Sleepless devolves into a bunch of stereotypes (the driven detective, the corrupt cop, the psycho gangster) shouting dialogue we’ve heard a million times before at one another. It would be interesting, if time consuming, to find any single line in the script that hasn’t been said before. The mobster warns us that he has a lot of friends, the detective says there’s no time to do things by the book, someone screams that they’re undercover etc.

Before becoming aggressively dull, the opening ten minutes of the film hold slim promise. We’re introduced to our main character mid heist and it’s then revealed that he’s a Vegas PD officer. We don’t yet know his motivations so we can at least be curious. The one surprising scene also happens up top and is just well directed enough to give us false hope. There’s no depth but the first act at least has uncertainty and surprise in its corner. After that comes a nosedive. All the later double and triple crosses, all the supposedly shocking twists have the air of inevitability.

There are great movies and there are bad movies that are at least fun. Sleepless ultimately isn’t good enough to be the next Heat nor is it pulpy enough to be a harmless, trashy, good time. That said, I did leave the screening laughing at how sure this is that it’s getting a sequel.

Sleepless is in cinemas now.

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