Jamie Foxx plays Vincent, who we are introduced to as he and his partner Sean (T.I.) are mounting a robbery. Despite a shootout in which Vincent is briefly unmasked, Vincent and Sean escape with the loot -- a bag containing 24 kilos of cocaine. As it turns out, Vincent and Sean also have day jobs: Las Vegas police officers. When the call comes in about the scene left behind at the robbery shootout, Vincent and Sean snatch the case from their fellow officers to cover their tracks, but Vincent finds himself being tracked by Internal Affairs agent Jennifer Bryant. The situation worsens further when Vincent picks up his estranged son Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson) from his ex-wife Dena (Gabrielle Union), only to lose Thomas moments later when thugs sent by corrupt casino owner Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) show up, stab Vincent and kidnap the kid. Now, Vincent has just a few scant hours to evade or convince Jennifer to help him, get his son back, and find some way to straighten things out with Rubino before his maniac buyer, Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy) starts murdering everyone.
The biggest problem with Sleepless, even as mindless action, is that the movie has no discernible hook or center story beyond Vincent escaping with his kid, which is too basic to be compelling. The obvious support for this story would be where Vincent's allegiances lie -- is he really knocking over coke dealers or is there some ulterior motive behind his actions? -- but if Sleepless is trying to make anything of that mystery, it fails to. There seems to be the attempt to set it up, as Vincent is the only character who can vouch for himself, raising the question of his honesty, especially as we watch him lie and con his way through numerous situations to try and rescue his son. There is also a subthread about Jennifer's competence or mental state, which is an intriguing character exploration (especially coming from a female screenwriter adapting a movie written by men for a male-skewing genre), but somewhere between the page, the film's other dramatic obligations, and Monaghan's uneven performance, that doesn't stick either. Instead, the next-best thing is the way the characters ping-pong off of each other throughout the night, with one character's desperate action having ripple effects that prompt a second character to do something to a third, and so on.
Without enough meat on the film's moral or psychological conflict, Foxx comes off as fairly monotonous, grimacing and groaning his way through a performance that has no center. Regardless of where his allegiances truly lie, he is living a double life, but there's no real sense of that in the way Foxx plays the character, which is moody and through gritted teeth. Monaghan, normally a fine performer, seems amped up to comedic levels here, creating a character that does seem mildly unhinged, even as she reiterates her own sanity. Weirdly enough, Foxx and Monaghan's best scene is a down-and-dirty fight in a hotel room that achieves a passable level of adrenaline-pumping brutality. David Harbour plays a type of role that is already "a David Harbour-type character" as Jennifer's partner, and the film mostly wastes Mulroney and Union. The one person having fun in the film is McNairy, who occasionally exhibits a bit of menace, but even the "character actor chewing the scenery" bit is starting to feel like a crutch for thrillers like Sleepless, especially when the entertainment value of his ferocity is only meaningful as it's on screen -- the instant scenes are over, the effect fades.
Aforementioned up-and-coming director, Baran bo Odar, doesn't make any massive missteps, but he never brings anything inspired to the table either. The film is shot in a constant digital gray-blue, with only the occasional orange streetlamp or neon light to brighten up the image. He stages action scenes with a John Wick-like authenticity and swiftness, but there is no wit in his compositions, which look bland and dull the effect. The hotel room fight between Foxx and Monaghan is successful more because the performers commit to it than because of Odar. The result is a movie that visually and stylistically feels like an echo of other, better movies -- and not just the film it's a remake of.
The Video and Audio
Trailers for Bleed For This, Split, The Bye Bye Man, Mindgamers, and Paterson play before the main menu. There is also a bonus menu with additional trailers for Snowden, Triple 9, Spotlight, Dope, Rosewater, Nightcrawler, and End of Watch. Note that, for whatever reason, the menu offers the ability to re-watch the same trailer for Bleed For This, but not any other of the pre-menu trailers. No theatrical trailer for Sleepless is included.