The Film: Sleepless Night (2011)
The Principles: Directed by Frederic Jardin. Acted by Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Dominique Bettenfeld, Joey Starr and Lizzy Brochere’.
The Premise: Tomer Sisley is Vincent, a police detective in France who robs and kills some drug dealers and has to deal with the consequences. The kingpin who was waiting for the cocaine kidnaps Vincent’s mildly estranged son, making him a desperate man with nothing to lose in a race against time to save his kid, kill the bad guys and somehow, maybe, get away clean.
Is it Good? It’s great! Usually when films are advertised as having “non-stop action,” it’s a bit of an oversell, but Sleepless Night starts with an action scene and barely lets up for the entire 102 minute running time. The bad guys tell Vincent they’ll give him his kid back if he brings them the coke back and he is at their door with the bag, ready to trade, within the first 15 minutes of the movie. I was sitting there with a smile on my face, in awe that I was finally seeing an action film that wasn’t wasting any moments. Since most of it plays out in real time, Sleepless Night turns out to be a rapidly escalating action/thriller where everything that can go wrong does and none of it happens off-camera.
I’ve never seen Tomer Sisley in anything before, but he’s a powerful presence here. In a fair world, he would be the next big French crossover star like Vincent Cassel. He plays the tiny, exposed nerve internal moments just as well as he plays the huge, explosive, Man With Nothing to Lose moments and you can’t take your eyes off of him. On top of that, he did all of his own stunts in the film (some of which are pretty hairy) and looks good beating some serious ass. There’s a six minute long fight in a kitchen that is easily the best fight I’ve seen this year so far and it’s a must see for anyone into that kind of stuff.
I didn’t know anything other than the basic premise going into this and I recommend any potential viewers do the same. Watching Vincent go through hell trying to save his son while simultaneously paying for his sins is a blast and one that you’ll feel exhausted by as the closing credits roll. Go in blind and let this film wash over you and I promise you’ll have a good time.
Random Anecdotes: This film was a joint production by France, Belgium and Luxembourg, so even though most of the film takes place in a giant night club, several pieces of the club were built in the different countries since everybody wanted a turn.
Lizzy Brochere’ shows up as an eager new detective and she looked so familiar that it drove me nuts. What I recognized her from is Season 2 of American Horror Story, where she played an ax murdering inmate of the Asylum. She’s fantastic and should be in all things.
Is It Worth A Look: The next time you need an action movie fix, you’ll have no excuse not to sit down with this one. The only real complaint I have is that it could have maybe been 10 or 15 minutes shorter, but even that never really bothered me.
Cinematic Soulmates: 24, Nick of Time, The Crimson Rivers, Taken, The Departed.