Jamie Foxx stars as a corrupt Vegas cop whose family gets the heat. 


No time for shut-eye: Jamie Foxx is sleepless in Las Vegas


Sleep is not an option. And don’t even think about eating or drinking. As for loo time, that’s when you go to stash your coke behind a ceiling panel. Baran bo Odar's Sleepless is a lean, mean action-thriller with the accent on action. Once the establishing shots of Vegas are quickly dispensed with, we cut to a car chase and then to a brutal shoot-out and get to know what an unpleasant piece of work Jamie Foxx really is. He is Vince Downs, a trigger-happy vice cop who’s just shot his way to 25k of cocaine worth $7 million on the street and enough to lift him out of his meagre lifestyle.


There’s not enough time for much backstory, but we know that Vince has a teenage son, Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), and an ex-wife (Gabrielle Union) who is exasperated by his lack of commitment to his son’s life. However, when he does agree to drive Thomas to soccer practice, his son is abducted in broad daylight by the goons of one Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney). Of course, Rubino wants his cocaine back…


The Swiss director Baran bo Odar is none too interested in the minutiae of character development. This might seem extraordinary as bo Odar’s breakout film, the shocking, gripping, yet all-too human The Silence (2010), was all about character and the devil’s details. Here, he just takes the bare bones of his scenario (based on the French thriller Nuit Blanche) and ploughs on regardless, chucking up new plot developments with breathless élan. It is perhaps fair to say that nobody is who they seem, but there’s a delicious hierarchy of villains in which Scoot McNairy’s bitter and twisted mobster’s son is perhaps the most vile, certainly of this film, if not of the year to date. And it’s always good to have a bad guy to despise, particularly as Jamie Foxx himself is no boy scout. The really good guy, though, is Michelle Monaghan, an agent from Internal Affairs who is not only fighting to prove that Vince is a loose cannon but also the institutionalised sexism of her department.


As Sleepless gathers momentum and the fate of Thomas becomes increasingly inconsequential – there are bigger fish to flay – the tension develops accordingly. Of course, there are clichés and a number of improbable moments, but for most of its running time the film hits one like a triple-shot of espresso.




Cast: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Scoot McNairy, Dermot Mulroney, David Harbour, T.I., Gabrielle Union, Octavius J. Johnson.


Dir Baran bo Odar, Pro Roy Lee and Adam Stone, Screenplay Andrea Berloff, from the screenplay Sleepless Night aka Nuit blanche by Frédéric Jardin, Nicolas Saada and Olivier Douyère, Ph Mihai Mălaimare Jr, Pro Des Tim Grimes, Ed Robert Rzesacz, Music Michael Kamm, Costumes Catherine George.


Riverstone Pictures/Vertigo Entertainment-Entertainment One.

94 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 5 May 2017. Cert. 15.