By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Indiewire, which is a site chock full of all of the Hollywood new and views you can shake a stick at, recently published a list in which its seemingly dozens of critics chose their favorite Die Hard knockoff. One film that popped up all over the list was last year’s French “Die Hard in a Nightclub,” Sleepless Night.
The list also assured me that yes, this is a thing that happened
Sleepless Night is a lot more than that reductive description, though. The plot is simple enough at first: a dirty cop, Vincent, is forced to go after the drug dealer who kidnapped his son, Taken-style, or else recover the duffle bag of stolen coke he owes him, but that his double-dealing partner and a crooked internal affairs officer also have their eyes on. Things become more complex from there as the competing personal agendas of all of the main players collide and combust in spectacular fashion.
This flick does exactly what is necessary in a movie of this sort by way of character-building. Not everyone has a full fleshed-out backstory, but every one has a concrete motivation which they stay true to, driving the plot as the come into conflict. This approach results in a whole bunch of violence, and Sleepless Night does violence real purty. One brutal hand-to-hand fight in a kitchen is as hardcore and bruisingly realistic as I’ve seen.
The tension just ramps and ramps and ramps, leading to multiple fake out endings where we barely have a moment to catch our breaths before the action escalates once more. There’s some nice tracking shots and innovative camerawork as well as a Hanna-lite techno score that keep things interesting. Also, the film has a surprising amount of humor, especially a dialogue-free sequence in which Vincent saves a girl from a pushy guy (john?) then uses her as cover in a variety of ways. She goes along with it, cause he saved her and is rather handsome, but this had to be a top three strangest night of her life.
Nothing’s gonna top this, though
One interesting thing I turned up about this film is that while foreign critics absolutely loved it, French ones were lukewarm at best. Apparently, the dialogue plays just fine via subtitles, but in the original language is unsubtle and kinda dumb. Not being a native Francophone, I can’t attest to that, but some narrative choices, particularly the amount of exposition they stuff into the beginning and the majority of the club owner’s racist soliloquies, do seem a little lug-headed.
The film escalates tension incredibly, and by the end you can’t see how this will finally wrap up. Well, kind of in a cop-out, if you catch my drift…
If you’re hankering for a no holds barred, knock-down, drag-out actioner and aren’t scared off by subtitles, this is just what you’re looking for.
Take a Drink: every time the kid is asking for a slap upside the head
Do a Shot: when he gets it
Take a Drink: every time you see a white powdered substance
Take a Drink: for every plot twist or double cross
Do a Shot: when you think the movie’s over