Back in 2011, French director Frederic Jardin produced one of the best action thrillers seen in years, a ridiculously frenetic crooked cop all-nighter entitled Sleepless Night. The script was picked up by Hollywood and has now been turned into Sleepless, replicating most of the original plot while managing to drain nearly all the energy that made the French film so memorable. Jamie Foxx is given the lead for the remake, a dirty cop in a city full of dirty cops, trying to save his kidnapped son.
25 kilos of cocaine stolen by Vincent (Foxx) and his partner Sean (rapper T.I.) turn out to be the property of local gangster Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) who snatches Vincent's son, holding him hostage until the drugs are returned. Vincent arrives at Rubino's casino with the full stash ready to hand it over, only for his plan to go horribly wrong. The rest of the night is spent manoeuvring through the various levels of the casino, trying to save his son, while criminals, bent cops and internal affairs agents close in.
For those who have seen the original, it is hard to shake out of the mind as Foxx and co plod through the gears. Jardin's film wasn't exactly the most innovative story put to film, but that was quickly forgotten thanks to its high-adrenaline action sequences, dragging the viewer through a night of hell with no end in sight. Swedish director Baran bo Odar is given the reigns for the remake and shows the occasional stylish touch but little more. Too much of the action feels perfunctory, lacking any real weight, mostly there to finish off a sequence before staggering onto the next. For those that haven’t seen the original, Nuit Blanche, you would be much better served seeking it out.
As it happens, not everyone involved is who they first appear to be, prodded by an investigation led by Michelle Monaghan’s Internal Affairs agent Bryant, hot on the tail of Foxx deep inside the bowels of the casino-come-club. Foxx himself is either completely disinterested in the role or cannot bring to life writer Andrea Berloff’s (Blood Father, Straight Outta Compton) script. He scowls and mumbles through his lines without adding any dimension to Vincent, leaving an empty character that could have been played by almost anybody. It’s also hard to tell if Scoot McNairy is enjoying himself or not, although even in third gear his easy going charisma makes Novak the stand out character.
Sleepless isn’t an offensively bad film. It is mostly one that has been half-heartedly slung together, meaning the end result doesn’t inspire much involvement on the audience's part. There are a slew of films like this released every year and those that stand out are generally saved by a lead invested in the character, similar to how Liam Neeson and Denzel Washington have done for large chunks in their career. Whatever the reason may be, Jamie Foxx doesn’t do that here and with little else of note to raise the blood levels, this is a mundane action thriller easily forgotten.
Sleepless is out in UK cinemas on May 5th