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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Las Vegas isn't called Sin City for nothing. Even though the neon-lit gambling mecca has occasionally tried to clean up its tawdry reputation, Vegas still retains vestiges of its outlaw sheen.

It's no surprise, then, that some real outlaws call it home, seeking to profit from the vast sums of money that flow into and out of its coffers—through legal transactions and illegal ones. And with all that easy money floating around, it's a sad reality that some of the law enforcement officials who are supposed to be bringing outlaws to justice are on the take themselves. Some are even working for the very criminals they're supposed to be pursuing.

Homicide detective Vincent Downs is one of those bad cops. He and his partner, Sean Cass, steal drug lords' goods by night and pretend to chase them during the day. It's a dangerous game, but a lucrative one too.

Meanwhile, earnest Las Vegas vice detective Jennifer Bryant knows corruption in the city's police force is rampant. That strong suspicion is reinforced when she and her partner, Doug Dennison, begin investigating a shooting that's claimed one man's life—a shooting where police-issued ammunition litters the crime scene.

Ever the high-stakes gambler, Vincent volunteers himself and Cass for the murder portion of that investigation—never mind that they were the perpetrators of it who also made off with some 25 kilograms of plastic-wrapped cocaine bricks the night before.

Jennifer suspects something is amiss with Vincent, and begins surveilling him. And she's not the only one who thinks Vincent might not be the fine, upstanding homicide detective he appears to be.

Stanley Rubino, a casino kinpin who deals drugs too, is quite certain that Vincent has his cocaine, for instance. He's certain enough to kidnap Vincent's 16-year-old son, Thomas, wounding Vincent in the process, and making it clear that if the detective doesn't turn those stolen narcotics over, he'll never see his boy again.

Vincent, of course, is determined to rescue Thomas … and to somehow keep the cocaine. Jennifer Bryant is determined to prove that Vincent is on the take.

Then there's Robert Novak, another crime boss to whom Rubino owes the cocaine that Vincent and Cass stole from him. And he's determined kill anyone who comes between him and what he's owed—a skill he's honed very, very effectively.

Positive Elements

Despite the fact that she's just been reprimanded for trying to shut down a meth lab singlehandedly, Jennifer Bryant is determined to catch Vincent in the act. She's a fierce pursuer, and she eventually realizes that her suspect has stashed the purloined coke in a casino bathroom.

Meanwhile, Vincent is desperate to save his son, and will go to virtually any lengths to make that happen. Vincent's mother, Dena, is also deeply committed to her boy's welfare, and she's regularly frustrated with Vincent's failings as a father. (Vincent and Dena are separated, and it's unclear whether they were ever married.)

[Spoiler Warning] Fairly late in the film we learn that Vincent is himself a deep-cover internal affairs officer who's also trying to uncover corruption in the Las Vegas Police Department for several years. Jennifer doesn't believe him at first, but eventually they help each other identify the mastermind in the department who's working for Robert Novak's gang.

Spiritual Content


Sexual Content

A scene in a swanky dance club includes a pole-dancing woman in a g-string and a binkini top. Some waitresses wear cleavage-baring shirts. Women in a spa locker room are shown in towels.

Violent Content

Once Thomas gets kidnapped, the balance of the movie is basically one long chase punctuated regularly by shootouts and beat downs. Quite a few folks (officers and criminals) get gunned down (several at brutal, point-blank range). Vincent bleeds the entire movie from a stab wound early on, wincing continually and repeatedly changing blood-drenched, makeshift bandages. But that doesn't keep him from having massive melees with guys pursuing him, from Rubino's thugs to Novak's henchmen to a very corrupt cop whose identity is eventually revealed. Vincent and Jennifer even have a pretty spectacular, room-trashing brawl at one point, too.

Various people get kicked, pummeled, flipped, slammed, choked and knocked out during fights. Somehow Vincent manages to stay conscious through all this hand-to-hand combat, never mind that it seems like he's probably lost liters of blood by the end of the movie.

Particularly wince-inducing scenes include Rubino essentially torturing young Thomas (for no apparent reason, I might add) by slowly crushing one of his hands with a fire extinguisher. Novak and his goons also torture Novak's cousin. The defenseless man is hanging upside down in boxers in front of a pitching machine, which launches a baseball at his unprotected crotch. Novak forces a gun into his mouth, then has his men cut his cousin's tongue out for snitching. Novak later gives the detached tongue to Rubino as a warning. (The casino mogul sees it; we do not.) Vincent shoves a broken beer bottle into a man's neck, killing him. Novak grabs a man's crotch and squeezes severely for several minutes. Someone else is wickedly kicked in the crotch as well. Several men get rammed by speeding vehicles, with a couple of victims then getting pinned into concrete walls and barriers.

We see the corpse of a man in a pool of blood as his sightless eyes stare upward. Someone's head gets rammed into the side of a hot tub, splitting his forehead open bloodily. Another unfortunate gets cold cocked, then dragged by his hair.

In addition to all that, there are several reckless car chases—including one involving a custom sports car on display in the casino. Chases generally conclude with dramatic, often fatal, collisions with other cars or concrete.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 60 f-words, including at least seven pairings with "mother." About 45 s-words. God's name is abused eight times, six of which are paired with "d--n." Jesus' name is misused twice. Other vulgarities include "a--," "a--hole," "d--n," "h---" and "p-ss." There are also a couple of crude slang words for the male anatomy, as well as one scatological euphemism. We see one vulgar hand gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We repeatedly witness various characters handle a bag that contains some 25 individually wrapped kilos of cocaine. Twice, different characters puncture the bags to retrieve a small amount to verify the drug's purity. One person uses a chemical concoction to do so, while the other tastes the white powder (and discovers that it's actually a bag full of sugar that Vincent has substituted for the real drugs).

Much of the film takes place inside a casino and an attached dance club, and we see patrons drinking various alcoholic beverages throughout. Vincent drinks a beer at home.

Other Negative Elements

Vincent repeatedly lies to Thomas' mother, Dena, about what's going on with their boy. (He never does tell her Thomas has been kidnapped, but Dena eventually figures out that something has gone very wrong.) Jennifer knows that there are corrupt cops in her department. By movie's end, it's clear that there are even more than she realized.


Sleepless is pretty much a standard-issue R-rated corrupt cop caper. It's not terrible, by genre standards. Nor is it memorable. What it is, however, is chock-full of violence and profanity in a story that made me wonder how many times star Jamie Foxx's character can be stabbed, shot and beaten and still remain upright.

There are some brief, sweet moments that hint at the importance of both fathers and family. But let's not get carried away giving Sleepless too much credit here: This isn't really a movie about fathers and family. It's a movie about beating and shooting people. No more. No less.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Discussion Topics

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Jamie Foxx as Vincent Downs; T.I. as Sean Cass; Michelle Monaghan as Jennifer Bryant; Gabrielle Union as Dena; Octavius J. Johnson as Thomas; Dermot Mulroney as Stanley Rubino; Scoot McNairy as Robert Novak; David Harbour as Doug Dennison


Baran bo Odar ( )


Open Road Films



Record Label



In Theaters

January 13, 2017

On Video

April 18, 2017

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

Content Caution

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