TATM: Talkin’ About The Movies #247: Sleepless & Live By Night

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SLEEPLESS

***

Sleepless (2017 film).jpg

Synopsis:

A police detective, Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) with a connection to the criminal underground finds his secret life exposed when he and his partner Sean Cass (T.I.) are caught stealing cocaine from a powerful drug lord Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy), a move that puts his son Thomas’s (Octavius J. Johnson) life in danger.

Review:

This is a movie that got dumped, did not do very well at the box office this weekend and was overshadowed by the two big dungheaps of this weekend, The Bye Bye Man and Monster Trucks so that must mean the movie sucks right?

Well…actually, to be honest, I actually kind of enjoyed this movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect movie but overall, I really did enjoy it a lot more than I think most people did. Rotten Tomatoes rated this 11%, which, by the way, is 17% less than the friggin’ Bye Bye Man and 20% less than Monster Trucks….yeah, this movie does not deserve that much hatred.

Is it generic? Yes, but it was still enjoyable. Jamie Foxx commands this movie and gives this really solid performance as this crooked cop who’s perfect scheme is dashed away when his son gets kidnapped by the drug lord he screws over. So, we’ve got sort of a Taken-ish John Wick-ish generic crime plot here but thanks to a nicely written script by Andrea Berloff, the Oscar nominated writer of Straight Outta Compton, she helps to make it more watchable than most of these generic films of this type.

The cast is overall pretty solid, Foxx is really good, Octavius J. Johnson playing his son is very good, Gabrielle Union is really good, Michelle Monagahan is really solid, Dermot Mulroney is good, Scoot McNairy is good, they all do their job well. The lone exception is T.I., which….yeah, he’s not a good actor at all, he just always comes off as that obvious dick head who’s double crossing the main hero and…pretty much that what’s happens here, he just does not have any acting charisma and you’re asking him to work off of friggin’ Jamie Foxx of all people, yeah, that’s why I don’t like T.I. as an actor.

The action scenes are a mixed bag, some of them look really impressive and then there are times where it’s just like “wow, that was really bad.” The music by Michael Kamm is kinda generic and lame, the cinematography tries too hard to be much like Taken and that’s the real downfall of this movie is that everything about is generic but to its’ credit, it’s that okay kind of generic.

That’s probably the best way to describe Sleepless, a generic crime thriller saved solely on the cast led by Jamie Foxx and some nice action sequences, not a great movie but okay, I put this on the same level as Bullet To The Head, very generic but still fun to watch, when this gets aired back to back with Bullet To The Head on TNT in a few years, give it a watch or check it out in a theater at an early showing so you save money, decent movie but don’t go later in the night when ticket prices are high to see it.

Let’s be honest, would you rather watch Monster Trucks or The Bye Bye Man over this? Yeah, if you want a decent new release that’s not an Oscar movie because you live in a place where those movies don’t go to your theaters until after the Oscar noms are announced than this movie’s for you.

LIVE BY NIGHT

***

A man in a white suit, sitting a large brown armchair, pointing a gun.

Synopsis:

Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world. Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw. But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one-neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover-can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt. Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.

Review:

Poor Ben Affleck, how bad of a year was 2016 for him. First off, he was one of the saving graces of Batman V Superman giving us an exciting Batman but wow, that movie was so disappointing. And then he starred in The Accountant, which was okay but another disappointment compared to the really solid marketing that came before it and now you have this, the latest directorial effort by Ben Affleck, the guy who wowed us with directorial masterpieces with Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, so after three really solid films, clearly this has to be good right…

one screening later…

…godDAMMIT, Ben Affleck, what the hell? This was yet another disappointment for Affleck in 2016…my god, what happened?

The movie looks visually impressive, it definitely fits the tone of what 1926 Boston looks like, the overall casting is really good and most of the performances were fine, what more could you possible need?

Well, when I watched this movie, all I kept thinking to myself was, “wow, this is just as bad as Gangster Squad.” And remember, Gangster Squad was another one of those movies that looks visually impressive but ends up overall becoming a generic mess because of a story that was being rushed because they had to reshoot several scenes following the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.

This movie felt like that, like they reshot many things in this movie not because of a tragic event but because there was buzz on this being one of the big Oscar contenders and yet WB scheduled it for a January 2017 release date…now I know why because the movie is really generic and boring.

The overall plot is not investing or exciting at all, it felt rushed, it felt like Warner Bros. gave Ben Affleck the chance to make this movie but he had to attach himself to another movie, The Accountant or Batman V Superman, before he could do it and then he finished those films up and realized, “oh shit, we were supposed to shoot this movie two weeks ago” so he just rushed out a script, did a cliffnotes rundown of the book this is based off of, and just said, “okay, let’s shoot this, we literally don’t have any time.” The whole movie just felt rushed, the plot was all over the place and none of these characters never take off as well as they should. Hell, Affleck himself said this:  “Editing is a strange process. It’s a lot of ups and downs, but overall, the movie has amazing performances. I just got so lucky with the cast. They’re incredible … The hardest part about the process now is trying to find stuff to cut out because I don’t want the movie to be too long.”

Yeah, that perfectly sums up this movie, I just don’t think Affleck knew what needed to be cut out in order to make this story move along and for somebody with a directing resume that has included Gone Baby Gone, The Town, & Argo, this is unusually bad.

And there’s a really good cast here, Affleck is perfectly fine here, Elle Fanning is good in this, you’ve also got Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver, Clark Gregg, this has one of the strongest casts out there and the film just can’t make it work.

Now one thing needs to be made perfectly clear about this movie to Ben Affleck, do not quit your directing job because of this movie, you are a really good director, you’ve proven that with three films prior to this, this was just a misfire that I really think was not your fault at all, Live By Night could’ve been so much better than it ended up being and it’s one of the biggest disappointments of the Oscar season.

Still, I will give the movie credit for its’ amazing visual style and its’ solid cast but overall, Live By Night is a disappointing miscue that should’ve been way better than this final product came out to be.

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Posted in TATM: Talkin' About The Movies

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