Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jamie Foxx, Tip 'T.I.' Harris, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, Gabrielle Union, Scoot McNairy
Written by: Andrea Berloff, based on a screenplay by Frédéric Jardin, Nicolas Saada, Olivier Douyère
Directed by: Baran bo Odar
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/13/2017

Sleepless (2017)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lying Awake

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though it suffers from minor inconsistencies of plot, and some shaky camerawork, this thriller offers a fun, entertaining, "B"-level story; the terrific cast of characters helps to fill in the blanks. A remake of a 2011 French movie, Sleepless starts with a bang on the streets of Las Vegas, using the nighttime lights and the daytime shabbiness for good effect. Then the characters are introduced, each of them shabby or beaten up or full of a kind of life experience that makes them very interesting.

Las Vegas cop Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) is working undercover, posing as a dirty cop, hoping to discover the secret identity of the inside source used by his partner, Sean Cass (Tip "T.I." Harris). The partners steal 25 kilos of cocaine, and their theft results in a shootout, with several dead. This brings internal affairs agent Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) into the case; she suspects that Downs is dirty. Unfortunately, the drugs were being transported by casino boss Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), for the powerful Novak crime family. Rubino knows that Downs has the drugs, and kidnaps his 16 year-old son as collateral, until the property is returned. Meanwhile, the dangerous Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy) shows up, and wants to know what's going on.

Foxx's cop must deal with his ex-wife (Gabrielle Union) in matters of their son, as well as a constantly bleeding stab wound. Slick casino boss Dermot Mulroney has a fascinating rapport with gangster Scoot McNairy, who is calm, yet volatile (with a mysterious, hideous scar on his neck). And Michelle Monaghan must navigate this world consisting of mostly men; she shows frustration and weariness, but also strength. It's these characters that allow us to forgive any dumb trespasses in plot, such as Foxx's character always stopping to change his clothes. Overall, it's not particularly memorable — the title doesn't actually relate to anything — but it's not bad either.

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