Part kidnapping, part crime thriller and part action, Sleepless is a film that’s indecisiveness kills any tension or intrigue at its low-bar plot fails to impress. Behind the constant explicit shouting and cursing are average performances from all involved but it’s not enough to look past the many faults in the film. Stylistically, the film is pretty slick and its shot well throughout but it also highlights how generic everything else is.
The story follows Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx), a straight cop in Las Vegas who’s partnered with a crooked cop who convinces him to steal some drugs. After a successful heist, it turns out the drugs they’ve stolen are connected to crime family the Novaks who go after anyone who cross them. Consequently, Vincent’s son is kidnapped and he’s told to return the drugs they’ve stolen or else. The trouble is, its hard to care with unlikable Downs as the hero of the story with a real air of “what did you expect?” hanging over the outcome of his deed.
Of course, I won’t divulge any plot points here but suffice to say his hard exterior and prickly attitude are tough to win over with audiences who should be rooting for this guy to get his family back, especially after the beginning shoot out that sets off the chain of events that lead to this happening. We should empathise with him but its hard to do so when he’s lying to everyone around him. Jamie Foxx puts in a good performance and despite excessive swearing throughout, he’s one of the only highlights in this film – even if the character he plays is unlikable.
The story feels disjointed and at times its hard to work out exactly what sort of film Sleepless wants to be. It attempts a kidnapping story line, it dabbles in some action but its run-of-the-mill fist fights and car chases don’t have anything particularly spectacular about them. Add to that, the crime families with their generic character traits and what we get is a bland impersonation of a number of different films. Taken has done kidnapping better, Godfather nails the crime families. Countless action films have done innovative and more adrenaline-soaked action with better choreography. What we get then is a sleepy, passable thriller that doesn’t really have a lot going for it.
Sleepless is an indecisive imitation of different films. Its vague genre hopping is its ultimate downfall and this lack of focus spills over to every area of the film. Its action brings nothing new to the table and at times feels cliche. Jamie Foxx does well with what he’s given, even if the film is riddled with shouting curses at each other but its hardly enough to save this flick. You certainly won’t lose any sleep missing this one.