Movie critic Esther McCarthy reviews Sleepless and Mindhorn
Sleepless (15A) **
A remake of the little-seen but much-liked French action thriller, Sleepless Night, this movie movie to the US city of Las Vegas, where we meet the corrupt cop Vincent Downes (Jamie Foxx), who has been lining his pockets by taking a cut from cocaine seizures.
It's a movies that manages to be simultaneously cliched and riddled with daft plot twists.
Downes takes on more than he bargained for when he robs from a cocaine shipment belonging to a crooked casino owner (Dermot Mulroney). The businessman, it emerges, was doing a favour for one of the city’s most vicious and feared drugs kingpins.
His demented and violent son (Scoot McNairy) is the type of chap who cuts out the tongues of foes and when he abducts Vincent’s teenage son (Octavius Johnson) promising all sorts of nasty things, Vincent needs to get the drugs back and fast.
There are complicating factors: Michelle Monaghan is a fellow cop who’s convinced Vincent is corrupt and is watching his every move, while his estranged wife (Gabrielle Union) is aware her son is missing and demands to know why.
The usually decent Monaghan is incredibly one-note in a cliched role as the dogged cop determined to crack the case, while Foxx initially looks the part but runs out of road, encumbered by daft plot twists.
Mindhorn, played by Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) was once TV’s most famous detective, based on The Isle of Man and solving crimes with the power of his truth-inducing bionic metal eye. But after a failed stint in Los Angeles, and a brief period as a pop star with hits such as ‘You Can’t Handcuff the Wind’, Thorncroft has been making a living by appearing in ads for products such as anti-thrombosis socks.
But redemption may come when Richard is contacted by the police and asked to help them with a murder investigation. The suspected culprit, a superfan, is on the run and will only speak with the brilliant Mindhorn, who he believes to be a real character. Can our paunch-wearing, toupee-wearing hero crack one more case and in doing so turn his life around?
Director Sean Foley takes that zany notion and goes fully surreal with it, in a comedy that has smart humour but real heart too, in the sadness that lies behind the lead character’s attempts at face-saving and egotism. Though Thorncroft will make your eyes roll, you’re willing him to succeed.
While there are moments that don’t quite hang together, Mindhorn is persistently funnier than something so concept-based should ever dare to be. Barrett is superb as the lead and induces laughs with every little tick.