More than 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year.
I’m guessing Andrea Berloff isn’t one of them.
The “Straight Outta Compton” co-writer adapted the French thriller “Nuit blanche” into “Sleepless,” an action vehicle for Jamie Foxx, and set it in Vegas. Or, rather, “Vegas,” a nearly unrecognizable city, re-created in Atlanta, where there are never any cars on the streets, people on the sidewalks or anyone anywhere who isn’t directly involved in the action of a scene.
In “Sleepless’ ” Vegas, the flashy manager (Dermot Mulroney) of the Luxus — yes, Luxus — casino has a penthouse office overlooking the Strip with a Bond-villain-style secret stairwell leading to the parking garage.
A local drug kingpin (Scoot McNairy) carrying a small arsenal can spend 15 minutes or so indiscriminately shooting up that parking garage with an assault rifle without attracting a lick of attention. Honestly, not a single Luxus customer appears in that garage despite its being filled with cars.
And it’s a Vegas where that drug dealer’s family not only owns the “Las Vegas Police Department” — “This city is crawling with dirty cops,” Internal Affairs investigator Jen Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) declares — but the DEA as well.
But, hey, at least Berloff got one thing right: The Luxus charges its customers to park on the Strip.
“Sleepless” opens with Las Vegas cop Vincent Downs (Foxx) and his partner (Tip “T.I.” Harris) ripping off 25 kilos of coke and then placing themselves in charge of the investigation, which raises Bryant’s suspicions.
Later that day, after Downs picks up his estranged 16-year-old son, Tom (Octavius J. Johnson), from his ex-wife (Gabrielle Union), masked goons snatch Tom and stab Downs in broad daylight. Then Downs gets a phone call. All he has to do is return the drugs to Stan Rubino (Mulroney) and he’ll get his son back.
It seems the scary casino manager, who buys his coke in bulk for the Luxus’ clientele, had promised the drugs to the even scarier kingpin who, in turn, promised them to his still scarier gangster father, who had promised them to some Canadians who are no doubt terrifying — or at least as terrifying as Canadians get.
Because that’s exactly how the manager of a megaresort — even one with as stupid a name as the Luxus — would roll.
Bryant, and eventually her partner (character actor extraordinaire David Harbour), complicate things by trailing Downs’ every move. Downs also must contend with increasingly suspicious calls from his ex, wanting to know why her son isn’t home. And Downs has to repeatedly beat on people — pretty much anyone he comes into contact with — in a variety of uninspired ways. As a result, Foxx spends more time bleeding and grimacing in stairwells than actually acting.
And, really, what’s the point of assembling such a talented cast if you’re never really going to let them act? I adore Monaghan in a way that’s surely unhealthy, but even she couldn’t do much with the by-the-numbers script.
The first clue that “Sleepless” would be listless was its January release date. The second, which really set off alarm bells, was that it wasn’t screened for critics. I had to waste money on it just like everyone else.
“Sleepless,” the American debut for Swiss director Baran bo Odar, is a claustrophobic affair — and not in a fun, “Die Hard” way. Some of the painfully few exterior scenes were shot here, but at least 90 percent of the movie takes place inside the Luxus, which was digitally inserted somewhere in the middle of City Center
“Now, I’m tired of running around this (expletive) casino,” McNairy’s drug lord snarls at one point.
I felt his pain. Because I was tired of watching him running around that (expletive) casino.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @life_onthecouch.
Running time: 95 minutes
Rating: R; strong violence and language throughout
Now playing: At multiple locations