MAN UP: Foxx plays Vincent Downs, a Vegas cop and less-than-stellar father trying to do right by his young son.
Knowing your one and only child is in mortal danger is enough to quicken the steps and bolster the resolve of even the most delinquent father. We get a classic example in Sleepless, the fast-paced and adrenaline-inducing new cinematic thrill ride from filmmaker Baran Bo Odar, in which Jamie Foxx’s paternal instincts, not to mention his mettle, are put to the test.
Harking back to his Miami Vice era, Foxx stars as Vincent Downs, a Las Vegas cop who’s been working undercover in Internal Affairs for the past two years. Alongside his partner Sean Cass (an underutilized Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris), Downs makes one of the biggest cocaine busts of his career but things go haywire. When he confiscates a large stash of prime coke that belongs to casino tycoon Stan Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), Rubino raises the stakes by kidnapping Downs’ teenage son Thomas (Octavius Johnson).
To make matters worse, Rubino was supposed to hand over the drugs to the menacing Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy), a ruthless dealer following in his father’s footsteps. Infuriated by the turn of events, he literally grabs Rubino by the balls.
Michelle Monaghan plays Jennifer, an embittered officer whose frustrating latest case becomes linked with the drug operations. Hence she crosses paths with Downs, who has a hard time convincing her he’s not a dirty cop but a desperate father who will do whatever it takes to rescue his son. Character actor David Harbour appears as Dennison, Monaghan’s frequently MIA partner. Meanwhile, Gabrielle Union rounds out the main cast as Dena, a hardworking nurse and Thomas’ concerned mother who can read Vincent Downs, her former lover, like a book.
Working with a highly commendable script from screenwriter Andrea Berloff, Odar deeply immerses us in the night life of The City That Never Sleeps, a hotbed of gambling, drugs and anything-goes abandon. But at its core – driven by Foxx’s committed performance and the strong support he gets from his castmates – Sleepless is a stark and frighteningly realistic depiction of police corruption, the dangerous and deadly drugs business and the plight of a father who resorts to desperate and determined actions to get his kid out of harm’s way. Tyrone’s Verdict: B