Sleepless is the American remake of a French film from 2011, Sleepless Night. Funny how it took a Swiss director, Baran do Odar to take a French film and turn it into an American remake. I have not seen the French film, but if Sleepless is any indication, I didn’t miss much. Sleepless stars Jamie Foxx as Vincent a police officer, along with his partner Sean Cass (rapper T.I.) who take down a local delivery of drugs. They are not acting as cops, but as two rogue cops who want to distribute the drugs themselves and pocket the money. I don’t know how they were going to do this since there are two families in town who would immediately know stole their drugs and where to find them. But, okay, I’ll play along.
When the gangsters kidnap Vincent’s son, it is a mad dash to get the drugs to the gangster thugs before they start carving up the boy. Enter Internal Affairs officer Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) and Doug Dennison (David Harbour). Bryant had just been assaulted in a previous case and was actually beaten pretty badly. The good news is she is iron-willed and still tough as nails, despite everyone asking her if she is alright or if she needs to go home and get some rest. Bryant understandably gets tired of that real fast. She suspects Vincent and Cass are dirty but needs the evidence to prove it. But is there something else going on that no one knows about? It did not take me long to figure this one out.
Sleepless is a glossy and good looking film from the attractive cast down to the constant ariel shots of Las Vegas at night. However, nothing can help the cliched plot and trite dialogue with lines like “You gotta trust me. You goin’ to be alright.” Most of Sleepless is an autopilot from the assembly line of cop films. Estranged ex-wife? Check. Estranged son Vincent hardly knows? Check. A partner who may be dirty but Vincent still sticks with him? Check. A couple of real SOB gangsters? Check. A police chief who seems oblivious to the obvious seedy nature of his two best detectives? Check. As you can see, I went down the list pretty routinely and most everything that happens in Sleepless you will see coming.
The acting is sufficient with Michelle Monaghan giving the most weight to this film with a good performance. She is a fine actress and plays-for-keeps in Sleepless. Jamie Foxx does what the role requires but overall this is standard stuff for him. There is really no difference between Vincent in Sleepless and Foxx’s Ricardo Tubbs in Maimi Vice. He is the same quietly stoic character so this is not much of a stretch for him. Anybody could have played his character in Sleepless as there is nothing really special about Vincent. Rap star T.I. (whose real name is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) fulfills his requirements for Sean Cass, but once again no one is stretching, here. David Harbour is serviceable as Bryant’s partner, playing another, in a long line of creeps. I did like Dermot Mulroney as Stanley Rubino and Scoot McNairy as the feuding gangsters who have to partner up to get their drugs back. They spiced up the film but let me remind you, no one is polishing up their acceptance speech for the Oscars based on this film. Gabrielle Union is almost an afterthought as Vincent’s wife. She is a fine actress but stuck in a thankless role.
Director Baran bo Odar has seen a couple of cop action films so he displays some energy in his direction. The action is decent enough but where Sleepless falters is in its tired and hackneyed script penned by Andrea Berloff, which strands rather talented performers in a film that has been done a thousand times and much better than this. The standard bearer for this films, for me anyway, is Heat (why do I always go back to Michael Mann films?). I know not every film can be Heat, but is it too much to ask for them to try? About the only thing that is really worth taking away from Sleepless is its score by relative newcomer, Michael Kamm who has worked with Baran bo Odar on the few feature films he has directed. No, Sleepless is not an awful film. It might be worth watching when it comes out on cable or subscription channels, but other than that, there is no reason to run out and pay big bucks to see this film in theaters. Unless of course, if you want to.
Sleepless – **1/2 out of 5
Sleepless – Rated R for graphic violence, language, partial nudity and adult situations
Sleepless – Run Time is 95 minutes
Sleepless is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations.