[Screen It]


(2017) (Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan) (R)

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Drama/Action: After coming into possession of twenty-five kilos of cocaine, an undercover detective tries to rescue his teenage son who's been kidnapped by a casino boss who owes the drugs to a dangerous gangster.
Vincent Downs (JAMIE FOXX) and Sean Cass (T.I.) are homicide detectives working the Las Vegas beat. After a car chase and shootout, the two come into the possession of twenty-five kilos of cocaine, but Vincent soon learns it was intended for casino boss Stanley Rubino (DERMOT MULRONEY) when the latter's goons knife him and kidnap his sixteen-year-old son, Thomas (OCTAVIUS J. JOHNSON). Not wanting to tell his ex-wife, nurse Dena (GABRIELLE UNION), what's happened, Vincent intends to quietly trade the cocaine for his son, something that's amenable to Stanley since the drugs actually belong to Rob Novak (SCOOT McNAIRY), the feared gangster son of a crime boss.

But Vincent's plan goes awry due to Internal Affairs detective Jennifer Bryant (MICHELLE MONAGHAN) -- who's been watching the cop with her I.A. partner, Doug Dennison (DAVID HARBOUR) -- finds the drugs stashed in a casino restroom and hides them elsewhere. Jennifer is certain Vincent's a dirty cop, and now that she sees that Stanley and Novak are involved, she sees this as a potential big bust. But what she doesn't know is that Vincent is really an internal affairs detective himself who's been deep undercover for several years, and her attempts to nab him are threatening his work and cover. From that point on, she tries to nab him in the act while he tries to free his son from the casino and all who wish to do both of them harm.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or are done so late the night before they open) is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Back when DVDs were first introduced, the studios would send me advance copies of new releases in hopes that I'd write something about them. While I expected the usual array of big theatrical releases finally making their way onto home video, I was surprised by how many straight-to-video titles would arrive every week. Not just that, but also that many of them starred big Hollywood actors -- still in their prime of stardom -- and that nobody outside their families, friends and studio employees even heard they were making such pics.

I don't know why "Sleepless" didn't follow that route, but it certainly should have. Granted, it's not the worst thing you'll see all year, but it's just so bland -- despite all of the fighting, gun battles and such -- and unimaginative -- in telling the tale of a deep undercover detective dealing with corrupt cops, a casino boss, a sociopath gangster and a bunch of cocaine that brings them all together -- that it's surprising the likes of Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Gabrielle Union and others signed on (other than to get a paycheck).

Unless you're dealing with a case of insomnia and need to kill ninety or so minutes, there's little reason to stay up with "Sleepless." It rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed January 12, 2017 / Posted January 13, 2017

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