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Sleight. A Review
2017 has been an interesting year for movies so far, there have been a lot of great ones to come out already this year... Logan, Get Out, John Wick chapter 2 to name a few. This is not to say that 2017 has been devoid of bad movies, and while Sleight was a movie that I was excited to see coming into the year, it unfortunately finds itself on the wrong side of my best and worst movies of 2017.
Like I said before going into the theater I expected to like Sleight, it had gotten some good word of mouth, and while I did notice the poor reviews I figured it just did not connect with people. This happens all the time with movies like Attack the Block (One of my favorite all time movies) Where it takes them time to find an audience. Apparently the audience for Sleight is pre-pubecent boys and people with no appreciation for cinema.
Sleight is about a young man named Bo and a special ability that he has. Well at least the first part of that sentence is true, Sleight does tell the story of Bo, but his "special power" for some reason does not factor into the plot almost at all. Bo is a young adult thrust into full adulthood by the death of his mom, and now he has to make ends meet to take care of his sister.
Half of his time is spent on the streets of Los Angeles doing close up magic, usually involving cards and cute girls, and at night he sells drugs to yuppie white people and maybe a club owner? I was never able to fully figure out what Cameron Esposito was doing in this movie. When Bo's connect starts to bring him into the fold more, Bo is forced to chose between a life of crime or one that fulfills his electrical engineering talents.
Honestly that last sentence is me filling in some plot holes, which this movie is full of , but you get the gist. There are so many things that make Sleight so bad, and we will start with the plot. Not only is the plot of Sleight incredibly basic but every time you expect the movie to take a real dramatic turn it seems to shove that notion in your face and make the worse decision.
I am going to get into minor spoilers a bit, but honestly this movie is garbage so it should not be too big of a deal. When you think Bo has some sort of subtle power that you will be shown little by little you find out he has some god forsaken contraption jammed into his arm with wires running to his fingertips. When you think that Bo will use his power to move the plot forward, he instead finds every way possible to not use his magnesium in any meaningful way.
Before the last act, Bo only uses his power twice, TWICE. Once he makes a rung spin above the palm of his hand literally in the first 3 minutes of the movie, and once he movies a chair about two feet back. It feels like this movie needed something extra, not only to pad the run time but also to give this movie some much needed individuality. They decided to add a half baked faux superpower plot point and failed completely.
You can make up for the lack of plot with great characters like Free Fire did earlier this month but Sleight does nothing of the sort. Bo is probably the strongest character here, but he continuously makes poor choices, not only by my standards, but in the eyes of the law. Bo sells drugs, he steals from his friends and commits violent acts on people and he never learns from these experiences. He just movies through this movie under the assumption that he is the center of the universe and that his ever lengthening rap sheet are just means to an end.
Everyone else in the movie serves to check off a box, Bo impresses a girl named Holly with his street magic and she immediately falls in love with him. No matter how many times he takes a call that cuts their first date short, or lies to her about his true profession she seems to fall deeper in love with Bo. She just cant get over that spinning ring trick I guess.
There is absolutely no drama or friction in this movie other than that caused by the villain, Angelo. Angelo is Bo's plug and wants Bo to take on a bigger role in his criminal empire. No matter how many times Bo tells people that he wants to get out of this life, he continues to follow Angelo's every command without question. When Angelo calls, Bo says how high while complaining that he just wants a better life.
Dulé Hill is....a treasure. If you have never seen Psych then do yourself a favor and look it up. It is one of the funniest most enjoyable shows to come out in a long while. Mr. Hill co stars on Psych and is incredibly funny but his performance here is not quite as satisfying.Dulé does not pull off the tough guy well, he is not helped by some terrible dialogue and a character that is basically your run of the mill drug kingpin with no substance or motivation.
The one good thing I can think of about Sleight is its length. It's run time lands right on an hour and a half, and there were portions of the movie that felt added in to make this length. For a short movie the pacing is not great, when there are almost no stakes until the end of the movie and boring dialogue and characters you movie drags.
I wanted to like Sleight, there is something to be said for a movie that wants to set itself apart and give people a chance that wouldn't normally get one. From the first few frames, when we see that Bo has a "Electrical Engineering 1st place" trophy on his bookcase I knew that this movie would be a struggle, but it's like they did not even try to make a compelling movie.
Sleight never took that next step, it fell into mediocrity from the beginning and never was able to pull itself out of the hole. I usually say something like the pieces are here, they just were not put together correctly, but sleight does not even get that treatment. Sleight is a boring, misguided attempt to take advantage of the growing market for movies that involve some sort of superpower, throw in an urban setting and you get a movie that feels much more like pandering than entertainment.
So while 2017 has been a great movie year, we would not know how good those movies are without terrible movies like Sleight. I honestly can't think of a movie that a fully disliked more than Sleight this year, not only was it a bad movie, but it was honestly a sleightly offensive to a true movie fan. Save you money and see Logan for a third time or maybe just play video games in the lobby.