A Bloody Night in Vegas – Sleepless (Film Review)

BARAN bo Odar’s film Sleepless lives up to its name. All action and froth.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Download from 11 September, the film opens to an aerial shot of Las Vegas at night.

We cut from this calm image of darkness and starry bright lights to two masked figures in the middle of a high-speed car chase. From this moment on, Sleepless rarely pauses for a break or reflection.

Jamie Foxx (Baby Driver) stars as Vincent Downs, a cop who finds himself in a dangerous bind after stealing 25 kilos of cocaine from drug-dealer and casino boss Rubino (Dermot Mulroney, The Grey).

Vincent’s 16-year-old son Thomas (Octavius J Johnson) is kidnapped as a result and is held ransom for the return of the goods.

To make matters worse for Vincent, sadistic drug lord Novak (Scoot McNairy, 12 Years a Slave) – who is much higher up the criminal food chain than Rubino – is counting on the drug transaction to help secure an even larger deal.

Novak’s unhinged violent tendencies are displayed early on. First he hangs a victim upside down in a baseball stadium while a pitching machine darts balls at him. Later he hits golf shots at framed photos in Rubino’s office. Play and violence go hand-in-hand as far as this horrible drug lord is concerned.

Straight-laced cop Bryant (Michael Monaghan, Patriots Day) bares the scar of a botched operation which saw her fail to spot the clues right in front of her. A blunder that Bryant’s colleges take pleasure in reminding her of. Surely she will not repeat the same mistake?

Seeking redemption and hell-bent on cracking down on the city’s infestation of dirty cops, Bryant sets her sights on the shifty Vincent. Along with partner Dennison (David Harbour, Stranger Things), their pursuit of Vincent leads them to Rubino’s casino – the setting for an ensuing  chaotic and bloody game of cat and mouse.

As you can imagine there are chase and fight scenes aplenty. These spill across the casino –  into the spa pool, hotel rooms, the nightclub and the kitchen. The scene in the kitchen is a reminder of Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2 (2014), although the action in Sleepless does not quite reach those expertly choreographed and inventively lofty heights.

Vincent, who is slowed down by a stab wound suffered during his son’s abrupt kidnapping, undergoes multiple costume changes – from policeman, to smart causal and then janitor – to avoid his foes. It is all a bit ridiculous and his character, like many others, is wrought with clichés. Even still, Foxx does not reign it in and still brings his usual command and gruff charisma to the part.

Cinematographer Mihai Malaimara (The Master) captures a grey darkness to Vegas that, along with the bright artificial neon lights, feels lurid and menacing. But these visuals are not enough to gloss over the film’s many logic gaps. Often a desire to swerve the audience comes at the expense of character credibility and basic common sense.

Like the recent Unlocked, there is still a lot of fun to be had with an abundance of twists and action on show.

Just try not to think too hard or the entire experience might quickly unravel. Light entertainment that will amuse you momentarily – but will soon be forgotten.

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