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Originally published Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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'Sleepless Night': Cop races to find son in breathless French thriller

A movie review of "Sleepless Night," a fast-paced French thriller in which a corrupt cop steals 10 kilos of cocaine from a Parisian kingpin, who retaliates by kidnapping the cop's son. A Hollywood remake is in the works; let's hope it's at least this good.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

'Sleepless Night,' with Tomer Sisley, Serge Riaboukine, Samy Seghir. Directed by Frédéric Jardin, from a screenplay by Jardin and Nicolas Saada. 98 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence and language). In French with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.

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It's no surprise that Warner Bros. bought the remake rights to "Sleepless Night," because this cheetah-paced French thriller readily lends itself to a slick Hollywood makeover. The plot is clever yet breathtakingly simple, the action is relentless but logical, and the lead role is tailor-made for Hollywood's A-list action stars. We can only hope the remake is at least as good as the original.

Vincent (Tomer Sisley) is a divorced and crooked cop in very hot water. His partner is even more corrupt than he is, and they've just botched a 10-kilo cocaine heist. They successfully stole the coke from a criminal kingpin named Marciano (Serge Riaboukine), but Vincent's been identified by one of Marciano's henchmen. Marciano quickly kidnaps Vincent's young son Thomas (Samy Seghir) and demands the cocaine back as ransom.

And so begins a cat-and-mouse triangle between Vincent, rival drug lords and honest cops as Vincent hides, then loses the coke in Le Tarmac, Marciano's nightclub headquarters in suburban Paris. With a sharp knack for circumstantial improvisation, Vincent stays in play against all odds, bleeding from a serious knife wound as he's repeatedly chased, beaten and bloodied. His survival tests the film's credibility, but the plot's momentum holds absurdity in check while Vincent races to rescue his son and perhaps redeem himself in the process.

Director and co-writer Frédéric Jardin turns the mazelike nightclub into a series of crowded action set pieces, including a chase set to the pulsing bass of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." Best known for his comparatively sedate work for Clint Eastwood, cinematographer Tom Stern keeps his handheld digital camera racing and whooshing through the nightclub, frequently from Vincent's point of view. Shaky-cam was never more justified, making Stern a perfect candidate to shoot the remake.

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