Thursday, May 4, 2017

[Review] Sleight

Sleight is an intriguing crime drama with low-key glimpses of sci-fi...and magic. Think of it as a minor concoction of Dope, Win It All, and Marvel's "Luke Cage".

Meet Bo (Jacob Latimore), a Houdini-worshiping street magician by day, a reluctant drug dealer by night. The kid has some unique tricks up his sleeve, and by that I mean he literally has an electromagnetic-infused arm, giving him the ability to make small objects levitate. But when Bo gets caught up in a life-threatening debacle, he must pull out all the stops he can in order to escape.

Skilled director J.D. Dillard stages some really cool sequences, gripping thrills, and high-stakes dilemmas that all give the narrative a constant sense of gusto and gravitas. The low-budget flick is often shot under natural lighting and amidst shade and shadows, painting L.A. as a silhouette with varying color tints. Jacob Latimore gives a great lead performance, occupying every scene with his own magnetism, along with a radiating smile, despite the tough hand he's been dealt.

Bo's character is well-drawn too, with enough dimension to be the film's main driving force. He's heavily conflicted about his lifestyle, but after losing both of his parents and having to walk away from an engineering scholarship, it's the one way to keep a roof over him and his little sister's heads. Not to mention, he's trapped within the abusive grasp of Angelo (Dulé Hill), the menacing drug kingpin that he has to kick up to. All the while, Bo attempts to conceal his illegal activities from his brand new girlfriend Holly (Seychelle Gabriel), which brings me to my only major gripe about the film. See, Holly is just a shell of a character, essentially functioning as a convenient stand-in. And Bo and Holly's relationship is just too haphazardly developed to be fully convincing. A gaff, if you will.

Still, the film's jaw-droppingly awesome climax almost makes you forget the shortcomings. I hesitate to call Sleight a superhero movie, because I don't want to lump it into that crowded category, especially considering how different it is. But if that gets more people to go see it, then so be it.

( 8/10 )

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