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Tribeca 2012: Sleepless Night

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 18th to April 29th. Jeff Hart and Jeremiah White are there and will be seeing a shitload of movies.

Sleepless Night begins with a daring heist of a gym bag full of cocaine by a pair of dirty cops. Unfortunately for Vincent (Tomer Sisley) – the darkly handsome badass half of our corrupt lawmen – he’s made at the scene, and an epicurean drug-lord kidnaps his son as retribution. In the course of one (you guessed it) sleepless night, Vincent will have to contend with a disgruntled partner, a persistently bleeding stab wound, a pair of opportunistic internal affairs agents, some inconveniently misplaced cocaine, and no shortage of ruthless French gangsters.

Like Die Hard by way of Guy Ritchie, after some brief scene-setting Sleepless Night plays out almost entirely within a sprawling nightclub. Vincent’s maneuvering to trade the drugs back for his son takes us from crowded dance floor to swanky restaurant to dimly lit pool hall to hidden bordello to the kitchen’s meat freezer and all the way to inside the ceiling above the men’s bathroom. You’ll gradually come to know this monstrous adult amusement park (a stand-in for Nakatomi Plaza) as if it was a place you’d actually gotten drunk in.

Perhaps more impressive than the detail-saturated connectivity of Sleepless Night’s sets is the film’s ability to maintain a frenetic, propulsive energy for most of its runtime. Vincent begins the film as an inscrutable anti-hero with a textbook case of kidnapped child. Gradually, he develops into more than that. Not that we ever truly know him or his motivations – those remain debatable right through the film’s final frame – but we do come to understand his desperation. Dude just wants to get his son back, go home, and go to bed.

Desperation quickly becomes Vincent’s overriding character trait. Unlike a Liam Neeson by way of Taken type, Vincent doesn’t have a unique set of skills to rely on. Instead, he must desperately cobble together a series of schemes, each involving the nightclub and each with diminishing likelihood of success. While he can certainly brain an assailant with a frying pan when backed into a corner, it’s still refreshing to see an action hero that gets by more on reckless everyman wits than by secretly being one of the world’s foremost practitioners of krav maga.

Eventually, the kinetic energy of Sleepless Night is drained – right around when the sun comes up, unsurprisingly – and the film doesn’t wrap up as quickly or as neatly as it should. Still, the preceding thrills are more than enough to merit a whole-hearted recommendation for anyone that digs any combination of action, capers, or the French.

VERDICT:  See it.

"Give me back my son!"

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