Saturday, May 13, 2017

Movie Review: "Sleight" (2017)

Director: J.D. Dillard
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
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A street magician by day/drug dealer by night has to put his skills and talent to use when his supplier attempts to extort money from him.

"Sleight" is directed by J.D. Dillard, who also helped write the film along with Alex Theurer. It stars Jacob Latimore as Bo, an amazing street magician who also dabbles in a bit of drug dealing. He does this because he has to take care of little sister Tina, played by Storm Reid, now that both of his parents have passed away. Bo wants out of the drug dealing business, especially when his position starts to elevate into something more violent. He devises a plan about how to do this, but when his supplier Angelo, played by Dulé Hill, gets word of a potential betrayal, he feels he's being cheated and decides to extort money from Bo. Now, Bo must use his skills as a magician to fight back against Angelo and his goons.

We want to keep it real with you all. We didn't expect much from "Sleight." The trailers looked supremely dopey, another film billed as a "Chronicle" rehash with a cheap budget and wacko premise. Considering it is produced by both WWE Studios, who doesn't have the best track record with its releases, and Blumhouse, who is hit or miss with its low budget offerings, we feared the worst. We are ecstatic to say we are pleasantly surprised by this film and what director J.D. Dillard was able to do with a mere $250,000 budget.

This film offers up an interesting twist on the superhero movie. It grounds the superhero genre with Bo being a self-enhanced magician who uses technology to give himself what seem like actual magical powers. You might equate him to a very young Tony Stark, but without the billions and billions of dollars and minus the suave douchebaggery. Latimore is excellent as Bo, a kid who has to forgo a scholarship and all he could have been because he has been put in a parental position and clearly loves his sister with all his heart. He wants to get her out of their neighborhood, but winds up getting stuck in a job he doesn't want in order to make money quickly to do so. In this sense, the movie sort of reminds us a little of "Dope" as neighborhood outsiders are forced to embrace the community they feel disjointed from in order to get out of a tough situation. Storm Reid is also great as Bo's little sister Tina, and we are excited to see what the future brings for both of these actors. Finally, we also enjoyed Dulé Hill's performance as Angelo. He brings a charming but intimidating character to life with ease and makes the audience like him before doing a complete 180 degree switch into a scary, unrecognizable drug boss.

At first glance, the device Bo installed into his arm himself look like a pursed butthole, dangling and contorting there, getting infected over time. It's a bit gross, but hey, all in the name of magic! In fact, there is another really gross moment later on in the movie's run time as well that we totally didn't expect. That's the best part of "Sleight," it goes places we didn't imagine it going with relative success. Some of the elements do feel a bit contrived, and the entire thing requires you to completely accept the magic-related premise of the film without reservation. People who do not like fantasy movies need not apply. Still, we remained thoroughly engaged throughout its run time. It even manages to create intensity from scene to scene and builds its characters up more than just surface level people. It's not a perfect movie by any stretch, but we did enjoy it much more than we expected to enjoy it.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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