Sleepless (2017)

(On Cable TV, November 2017) While we cinephiles are all here talking about the death of original middle-budget movies (i.e.: non-sequels, non-comic book, non-franchise, non-superhero stuff), there are movies like Sleepless to remind us that even those movies can be underwhelming. It’s not that Sleepless is bad—it’s that it shows things that countless other crime thrillers have done better. Crooked cops, undercover heroes, internal affairs, large drug deals, threatened family members … and so on. Even set against the glitz of Las Vegas and with the combined appeal of Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan and Gabriel Union, Sleepless can’t really rouse itself out of complacency. It does get slightly better toward the end by resorting to semi-insane action movie tricks such as a car chase in a casino and a rather impressive car flip executed with ramping frame rates and a moving camera (no, seriously, it’s quite good and you even see it again later during the credits if you’ve missed it) but the vast majority of the film is as bland as it comes. Average dialogue, expected plot developments and middle-of-the-road direction don’t really help, even though Monaghan and Union are expected delights in their roles, and Foxx doesn’t do too badly either. Ultimately, Sleepless is the kind of crime thriller that works well enough as an evening’s distraction, but soon fades away as nothing more than an average genre title.

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