Frédéric Jardin’s slickly shot and edited Sleepless Night is, thanks to its fast pace and vivid characters, most likely the next American remake lying in wait—not to mention that its setting and framework is familiar. Vincent, an undercover narcotics cop, pulls a drug heist with his crooked cop partner: stealing a lucrative bag of cocaine meant for nightclub owner/gangster José Marciano (Serge Riaboukine). In retaliation, Marciano kidnaps Vincent’s teenaged son as leverage to get the drugs back, and then the majority of events take place all in one night at Marciano’s nightclub.
The main performance by Tomer Sisley as Vincent is entirely convincing (in a Die Hard-esque move, Vincent is stabbed early on and remains wounded throughout the film, which adds to the suspense). Most of the characterizations are the kind out of a 1940’s film noir on steroids, with some added international flair. It’s not just French gangsters vs. cops. Some of bad guys are from the Caribbean, Corsica, and Turkey, adding to some cultural tension when one set of gangsters clashes with another at the club to retrieve the drugs. Though some, like Marciano, are fairly one note.
The camerawork isn’t quite like a “Bourne” movie, but it’s close. Luckily the editing isn’t quite as jarringly hyperkinetic; you can still see what happens when fights and action goes down. The pacing is fast enough that I was never bored, but I also found myself counting minutes until the next twist would pop up. Sleepless Night has several, and by the last 10 minutes I stopped really caring about the story and just kept paying attention to how a shot was framed or to the choreography of a fight scene.
The best part in the film is when Vincent is caught in cat-and-mouse game with the gangsters—he hides the drugs within the club and then those same drugs are re-hidden by someone else. Most amusing is a chase while clubbers are all dancing in an electric glide formation to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” The film has an edge and built-in suspense, almost like a Michael Mann film, but it becomes totally perfunctory, and there isn’t much depth to its story, apart from the relationship between Vincent and his son.