I have no idea what to make of the movie itself, but I’m going to take a second to say that this trailer is damn annoying. Punching to the beat of the song playing over it isn’t always as bad-ass as you might think, especially since so many action films do it. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure what this story is about. The best I can gather is that it’s about a dirty cop, married with a teenage son, stole something from a crime boss. In order to get it back, he kidnaps the cop’s son. Meanwhile, he’s being tracked down by an Internal Affairs agent who doesn’t know it’s him that she’s after. It looks pretty standard and unoriginal.
Let’s take a look at the cast. Front and center is Jamie Fox. I may not be the biggest fan of Fox, but it’s hard to deny how great an actor he’s been in the past. He’s done great in films like JARHEAD (2005) and DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012), but he’s also churned out some pretty awful performances like in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014), and been in some bad movies as well, like VALENTINE’S DAY (2010) and STEALTH (2005). I can’t say I’m excited to see him in this role, so the most I can hope for is a fun performance. Next up is Michelle Monaghan. I can’t say I’m her biggest fan either, mostly because all the good movies she’s in, like BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004) or PATRIOTS DAY (2016), I didn’t know she was in them. With the exception of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III (2006) and GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), the only movies that I can pinpoint her in are the bad ones, like PIXELS (2015). I’m sure she’s a fine actress, but she’s never really been given many opportunities to expand her craft. Other cast members include Dermot Mulroney (DIRTY GRANDPA , ZODIAC , and MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING ), David Harbour (SUICIDE SQUAD , THE EQUALIZER , and TV show STRANGER THINGS), and Gabrielle Union (THE BIRTH OF A NATION , the Think Like A Man movies, and 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU ).
Now for behind the scenes. Directing is Baran bo Odar, from Switzerland, making his first American film. Writing the script is Andrea Berloff, known for BLOOD FATHER (2016), STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015), and WORLD TRADE CENTER (2006). Composing the music is Michael Kamm, having worked with bo Odar on their previous work, making this his first American film as well. Finally, the cinematographer is Mihai Malaimare Jr., known for A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (2014) and THE MASTER (2012).
Overall, I’m pretty indifferent. I don’t expect it to be good and early ratings are only confirming my suspicions. IMDb has it at a 5.7/10 (as of 1/13/2017) and RottenTomatoes doesn’t even have a rating from the critics. Let me guess, it was never pre-screened for them. Not expecting much.
This is my honest opinion of SLEEPLESS.
Vincent Downs (Jamie Fox) is a dirty cop. Recently, he and his equally corrupt cop partner Sean Cass (T.I.) recently stole a shipment of cocaine from the mob. However, unknown to the two men, they stole it from one of the more powerful mob bosses, the father of the ruthless Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy). It doesn’t take long for the bad guys to figure out that it was Vincent and while he’s taking his estranged teenage son, Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), to his football practice, he’s kidnapped in broad daylight right in the middle of the road. Getting a call from one of Novak’s partners, Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), he promises to return the boy to Vincent as long as he returns the stolen cocaine to his casino. All of this goes on while a reckless Internal Affairs agent named Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) is hot on his heels, suspicious of his loyalties to the badge.
*sigh* January… the ratings were right. It’s bad.
Imagine for a moment that you and your kid were playing cops and robbers. But now you’re throwing in the scenario that the robbers might also be cops in disguise. This feels like the kind of story you and your kid would throw together in a rush just so you could actually play it out… except take out any semblance of fun and fond memories. The fundamental problem throughout the entire flick is that it’s as stock as you can get.
Who does the story follow? Vincent, the dirty cop. What’s his backstory? Stock. He’s got an ex-wife, and they don’t get along. He’s got a teenage son, and they don’t get along. “It’s all complicated! I love you, guys!” He volunteers for assignments that have something to do with his illegal ventures so he can control the flow of the investigation, all the while being hunted down by another officer who suspects him of being a bad guy. You’ve seen it before and it’s about as uninteresting here. Hell, even Fox doesn’t seem all that interested in this movie because he emotes so rarely. At the conclusion of the scene where Thomas gets kidnapped, Fox expresses his trauma… by lightly hitting the steering wheel. It’s painfully obvious. But here’s the bizarre thing, right after, he gives another reaction that you’d swear resembled more frustration and annoyance than rage about his son getting kidnapped RIGHT UNDER HIS NOSE! It a horrible scene, though that could just as easily be bad directing from bo Odar, or bad editing that couldn’t cut out the shamefully bad reaction, as Fox is usually a good actor who’s won Oscars. So I highly doubt any of this was his fault.
No, I blame the script here. I swear, forty-five minutes into this movie and there wasn’t a single likable character to root for. Everyone ranges from bland to unlikable. Vincent’s a cliché or a dumb-ass. There’s a scene where he’s finally got his son back. Attempting to escape the casino, he almost runs into Jennifer, who is eager to arrest him. Instead of handing his son over to her so she can at least protect him while he deals with the mob dudes, he continues to put his own son in danger and even loses him a second time. And the award for Father of the Year goes to…! Neither Rubino nor Novak are threatening or even interesting other than Novak having some comedically homosexual undertones (he strips one victim down to his boxers – granted, to cut his tongue out – and grabs another man by the balls). Dena, played by Union, is fluff to round out the cast, but does add some unintentionally hilarious moments in the final act of the film. Finally, Jennifer is utterly unlikable and annoying. She is obsessed with stopping Vincent and literally never shuts up about it and unrealistically goes above board to catch him. Although, to be fair, why he doesn’t enlist her help, explaining the situation, who can say?
Speaking of which, here’s a big problem with the story. Now, unless I missed something in the dialog early on (wouldn’t surprise me, this movie’s so boring that I could barely follow half the dialog), it’s never really explained that Vincent or his partner are under cover. In fact, we don’t learn this fact until maybe an hour into the movie. Even if I did miss something in the dialog, undercover work in stories like this usually involves the cop working for the mob boss in question. They infiltrate the organization and leak information to the authorities they report to while keeping their tracks covered. But… Vincent doesn’t work for Novak or Rubino (or if he does, then it’s not explained very well) and we don’t ever see him build a case against either man. You only see him dealing with them. As far as I was concerned, he was a dirty cop and he only said he was undercover to save face… and to have an excuse to have one of the silliest taglines imaginable for a movie: “Don’t judge a cop by his cover.” Holy shit…
I suppose the one redeeming quality this movie has is ironically, Thomas, the son. He’s constantly defying the bad guys, making attempts to escape, even gets in on the fight scenes. He gets his ass kicked the entire time, but kudos for having a pair to begin with.
Overall, yeah, this movie is pretty dumb. Laced with elements done in better movies, poor acting, characters you don’t care about, and a story that makes little to no sense, sometimes laughably so. I do not recommend this flick to anyone. Save your money, save your gas, save your time.
My honest rating for SLEEPLESS: 2/5