Adapted from the 2011 French film Sleepless Nights, this 2017 feature stars Jamie Foxx as Detective Vincent Downs, an apparent dirty cop, whose son is abducted by criminal businessman Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) after Downs inadvertently steals several kilos of cocaine from him, which Rubino in turn owes to the dangerous Novak (Scoot McNairy). Downs must return the stash to Rubino in order to save his son, while being perused by Internal Affairs agent Bryant (Michelle Monaghan), who is determined to take Downs down (downtown!)
Straight off the bat, Sleepless seems to be one of those misjudged attempts to adapt a foreign film for an American audience; I guess certain similar attempts have proved fruitful in the past (The Departed) but this film would sadly appear to be in the lower echelons of said efforts.
Unfortunately, the script could very well have been written by a ten year old as it is ultimately your by-the-numbers “city full of dirty cops, big bad businessmen want their duffle bags full of coke, drive, crash, shoot, run, fight, repeat” malarkey. The story is uninspired, predictable and quite boring, full of preposterous moments, such as the bad guys leaving the door to the son’s “cell” wide open (seriously, a great many characters in this film are complete dopes – a bit more on that later!)
Parts of the storyline are also unfathomable and incoherent and ultimately, it is just too much of a struggle to care about what’s going on or to care about the characters one jot, especially since Sleepless features a subplot regarding Vincent’s strained relationship with his son and (ex) wife that doesn’t go anywhere and fails to evoke sympathy from us, the audience. The plain plot is thin and stretched out to its maximum, all (mostly) taking place over the course of a single day.
Oh, and there’s the inescapable “this character is actually a bad guy” twist/reveal that is blindingly obvious and only adds to the obviousness and unoriginality of it all.
The film also has a noticeable editing problem in that it does that annoying thing, which is seemingly becoming more popular nowadays (such as in a certain Iron Fist fight scene), of including about 100 different cuts in 20 seconds; the very first sequence in the movie is particularly off putting as it is impossible to fathom just what’s going on, given its gloomy, dark colours and frantic, unfocused editing. Overall, the editing is messy, uneven and honestly, the trailer was edited better!
Another major problem (SALUTE Major Problem!) is in the characterization – the characters of Sleepless are bland, two-dimensional and, in many cases, completely incompetent. In particular, Jamie Foxx is surprisingly meek, instantly going into apology mode when his son is taken; I mean in the trailer, he clearly says “you touch my son and I’ll kill you” – where was that in the actual film?! Detective Downs is actually a bit of a wimp and performance-wise, Foxx is simply going through the motions. Plus, going back to the whole incompetence angle, he stashes half a sports bag of coke (and his gun!) into the ceiling for no real reason, only for Michelle Monaghan (who he failed to notice was following him) to simply remove it all again, getting him in trouble with the baddies. Seriously, bad cop!
Michelle Monaghan fares quite a bit better, though I guess I’m kinda biased since I admittedly have a certain fondness for her, and she gives the part all she’s got, despite being lumbered with her share of trite dialogue and playing the thankless role of “dogged Internal Affairs agent determined to take down the bad cop”. Elsewhere, Dermot Mulroney’s baddie character is also quite a bit of a wimp; despite initially appearing as the big bad of the film, his part is quickly reduced to filler and is generally a bit worthless and weak. Scoot McNairy is a pretty effective slimy villain, despite having to literally shout “where the Hell are my drugs?!” at least twice, and David Harbour is tough and commanding as Michelle Monaghan’s partner.
Also, the film ends with a set up to a sequel but . . . will that even happen? Well, I doubt that anyone will be eagerly anticipating THAT one.