The menacing music that opens Sleepless suggests that it will be an intense film experience. Swiss director Baran bo Odar jumps right into the action with a car chase intercut with gorgeous aerial shots of Las Vegas at night. Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) seems to be a crooked cop who, with his partner, steals cocaine from the notorious crime family represented by Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy). Downs’s teenage son is kidnapped by sleazy casino boss Rubino – beautifully played by normal good guy Dermot Mulroney – as leverage for the drugs. It’s a shame that Foxx is given such a predictable plot and his normally likable onscreen persona is missing. McNairy and Mulroney as the bad guys are quite convincing but beyond that the acting and dialogue leave much to be desired. The storyline is often illogical and lacks a certain flow.
The overall tone of the film is somewhat gritty and dark but not gritty enough. Even the hand-to-hand fighting scenes feel a bit generic and tame although Downs fighting through a knife injury sustained earlier in the story is admirable. While the score is reminiscent of both a 1980s Nintendo racing game and the Die Hard soundtrack – which sets up a cool effect – later it feels too heavy-handed. Visually, the low-angle shots succeed in showing the power positions of specific characters and the establishing aerial views of Vegas and Nevada’s desert are impressive, though the editing during certain action sequences could benefit from being more concise. The baseball field scene, which unveils the cruel nature of the Novak family, is effective in building up tension and is one of the movie’s more gripping moments.
Baran bo Odar’s normal MO is writing and directing his features, so one wonders if something was lost in translation seeing as Sleepless is his first foray into directing an English-language film that is also based on someone else’s script. His 2014 cyber thriller Who Am I – No System is Safe and his 2010 crime drama The Silence both received international acclaim, so viewers may question what went wrong with Sleepless. Knowing that this is a remake of a successful French movie makes one feel that it had the potential to be so much more.
Sleepless is released nationwide on 5th of May 2017.
Watch the trailer for Sleepless here: