'Sleepless Night' FF Review: It's 'Die Hard' Meets 'Taken' Inside a Nightclub

'Sleepless Night' FF Review: It's 'Die Hard' Meets 'Taken' Inside a Nightclub

Sep 23, 2011

It's not at all surprising to hear that the French thriller Sleepless Night has already been picked up for an American remake because the film includes enough elements of previously successful Hollywood actioners that it's worth taking, reworking and using buzz off the original (and words like, "From the producer of The Departed") to launch something new in English with someone like Jason Statham in the lead. Whether that's even worth it is unfortunately not up to us, the audience who fell in love with the original (and hope that it, too, gets its time in a local theater near you), so all we're left with instead is an urge to spread positive vibes across the moviegoing public in the hopes that at least some of you will seek out the original before watching the upcoming remake because it takes risks Hollywood will most definitely ignore.

Essentially this is Die Hard in a club, as one crooked cop named Vincent (Tomar Sisley) attempts to right his wrongs by rescuing his kidnapped son from a packed nightclub full of all kinds of evil drug dealers and dirty cops, all of whom are out to take out Vincent in any way they see fit. That's difficult, though, because this is a huge club that's thumping music from every corner, packed with hot, half-dressed clubgoers who are oblivious to the cat-and-mouse action movie happening right in front of them. And it's the club that's ultimately the film's greatest strength; the massive, claustrophobic compound that's just as sexy as it is dangerous.

Like John McTiernan did with Die Hard, Sleepless Night director Frédéric Jardin  does an amazing job of turning location into the film's greatest character. By the time the action-packed finale rolls around, you know every room in that club because you've lived there for two hours; racing through its maze-like infrastructure with Vincent as he tries desperately to get his son back from the seedy drug dealers (and club owners) holding him captive. This isn't a film that gives you an action set-piece every three minutes like clockwork, and yet the pace never slows, even when our kinda-sorta hero is simply roaming the club plotting his next move because there's always someone right behind him plotting theirs.

And when this thing does decide to throw a few punches, the action feels very real and grounded, as if this is what would really happen if two guys who hated each other (and refused to give up) threw down in the middle of a lively kitchen full of chefs prepping food for a packed house (subsequently giving us the year's best fight scene). Nothing about the action feels staged or Hollywood-ized, which is what really makes this stand out from the cookie-cutter action flicks we normally see in theaters. Sure, the villain is a little cartoonish, and the film doesn't exactly respect the female character in any way, but it grabs you right from its opening credits scrolled in reverse and doesn't let go until its last shot.

We're so used to watching films starring guys like Jason Statham take on ridiculous, over-the-top stunts just for the purpose of outdoing whatever ridiculous, over-the-top stunt he pulled off in his previous movie. Hollywood is convinced audiences won't like action movies unless each new movie takes the action to some hyper-stylized extreme that's never been seen before. That's what makes Sleepless Night such a special film. It doesn't do any of that. It doesn't try to impress you with some crazy, off-the-wall sequence; it just presents its situation and shows you how one ordinary guy experiences it. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's an action film that really lets the action spread its wings and consume the moviegoer, instead of putting all its best stuff inside one man's fist. Sleepless Night is a one-night stand that you can't take your eyes off of, and it's no doubt one of the best action films you'll see all year.

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