“Sleepless Night” is a workmanlike action thriller from France that’s so unfussily entertaining — and inexpensive to produce — that Hollywood’s urge to remake it will be irresistible. (Indeed, the rights to do so have already been purchased.) Along with last year’s “Point Blank,” this is evidence of a new wave of knuckle-cracking French action.
“Sleepless Night” begins with two men in masks stealing a bag of cocaine, then spends most of its time in a swanky club run by a gangster, Marciano (Serge Riaboukine), who is the rightful owner of that bag of cocaine. Our hero is Vincent (Tomer Sisley), a cop with ambiguous loyalties who must reunite Marciano with his cocaine before he harms Vincent’s adolescent son (Samy Seghir). Vincent’s partner, two internal affairs detectives, and a pair of Turks who are supposed to be buying the coke from Marciano are also involved, with all the major players carefully avoiding or strategically encountering one another during a busy Friday night at the club.
Don’t let the simplicity deceive you. What writer/director Frederic Jardin has done, ingeniously, is reduce the adrenaline ride to its most basic elements. Every character has a clear objective; most of these objectives are in opposition to someone else’s objective; and all of these people are dropped into one location to hash it out. There are no explosions or helicopter crashes, no multi-car chases causing millions of dollars in collateral damage, just a winning combination of good old-fashioned fighting, shooting, and outsmarting. John McClane would be proud.
B+ (1 hr., 42 min.; French with subtitles; )