SLEEPLESS. Starring: Jamie Foxx, Dermot Mulroney, Scott McNairy, T.I., Michelle Monaghan, Gabrielle Union, and Octavius J. Johnson. Directed by Baran Bo Odar. Rated MA 15+. Restricted. (Strong Violence). 95 min.
This American action drama is the story of an under-cover Policeman, caught up in the criminal underworld of Las Vegas, who scours the dark district of that city in search of his kid-napped son. The movie is an American remake of the 2011 French Thriller, "Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)".
Vice-policeman, Vincent Downs (James Foxx) works alongside a crooked partner, Sean Cass (T.I.) in the seamy parts of Las Vegas. While working together, Sean asks Vincent to help him steal a shipment of cocaine from Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), who is associated with a powerful mobster, Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy). Vincent agrees. Rubino supplies drugs to keep the clients of Las Vegas' hotels happy, and he wants the drugs returned to avoid the wrath of the Novak family. To ensue that this happens, Rubino abducts Vincent's 16-yr. old son, Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), saying he will only release Thomas, if the stolen drugs are returned. Vincent, desperate to save his son's life, decides to return the drugs.
At the same time, however, Vincent also volunteers to investigate the robbery. His action arouses the suspicion of Internal Affairs Agent, Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan), who does not know that Vincent is really an undercover agent working for her own department. Committed strongly and earnestly to stop drug trafficking, and thinking something is amiss, Jennifer pursues Vincent relentlessly. Vincent's estranged ex-wife, Dena (Gabrielle Union), also becomes involved. Opposing him initially, Jennifer and Dena re-assess their feelings about Vincent, when they finally learn the truth about him.
Complicated loyalties abound in this movie, as the plot unravels to a climatic shoot-out. The film ends with Vincent and Jennifer recovering in hospital from multiple gunshot wounds, while a message is sent through to the underworld, on a policeman's phone, that there is a problem. The news is a sign to everyone, including the viewer, that the web of corruption associated with drugs and criminal trafficking is immense, and the extent of corruption associated with drug activity has no easy or obvious solution, and is going to be a continuing problem.
As loyalties unravel in this movie, there are lots of fist fights, car crashes, gun fights, and stabbings. The film is heavily action-oriented, but aims to communicate a conspiratorial edge. The movie is especially strong on criminal characters who sell their wares, and it is not over-concerned with plot plausibility or plot consistency. It has a large cast of characters, who work all the time to supply the next violent scene, and the action is reinforced by a throbbing musical score.
There are some major moral themes in the background of this movie. They include a father's commitment to save his son; the need to declare proper feelings to preserve truthful relationships; and the emotional worth of repairing family bonds that have been fractured for a long time. All of these themes, however, are caught up in the action-melodrama that characterises most of the movie. The film is somewhere between a movie that tries to offer "sleazy" dark-noire cinema, and a film that tries to paint its main characters as the victims of intrigue.
This is an entertaining movie for those mostly interested in constant movement, action, and violence, and is not suited in any way by reason of its bloody violence for adolescent viewing. It is directed with high octane energy, but it lacks the sophistication of thriller dramas that work subtly to elicit genuine action excitement. By reason of its plot-line, it could have focused the viewer's attention on the moral dilemmas of people trapped in criminal situations, but chooses not to do that, and it frequently lapses into sadistic scenes to try to sustain its tension.
Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Released February 23rd., 201