Sleight was a movie that caught my attention when I started seeing trailers for it earlier in the year. It was being touted by some places as an urban super hero origin story. As one who loves new takes on genres, I was eager to see it. Unfortunately, it never came to my local theater. Thankfully, I saw it in the new releases on Google Play last night so I jumped right in.
Sleight, which refers to the magician’s term “sleight of hand”, opens with a somber recording machine message that fills you in on the tragedy that puts protagonist Bo (Jacob Latimore: Collateral Beauty, The Maze Runner) into his current day situation. Having lost his mother and father, Bo is left to raise his young sister Tina (Storm Reid: 12 Years a Slave) by any means necessary. A gifted street magician, Bo takes up dealing drugs as a means to make some quick money in hopes to make a better life for his sister and himself.
If things were so easy, it wouldn’t make for a very good movie, so things take a quick turn for the worse when Bo’s boss starts taking things in the drug business to the next level.
While everyone turns in a solid performance, the stand out for me was Dulé Hill of Psych fame. Casting him as a ruthless up-and-coming drug lord worked very well. He’s so friendly and unassuming that when he steps up his game in claiming the streets it feels more sinister, more threatening. Putting someone usually known for being goofy into this role could have come across as cheese, but Dulé brings his A game and his known persona actually plays well into the escalation of events.
Sleight is basically just a story about a guy that gets in over his head by trying to do right by his family who makes a bad decision that then endangers everyone he knows and loves. So, where does the super hero stuff come in?
To me, Sleight is less an indie take on a super hero origin story and more of a movie about a guy with a talent that uses that talent to overcome personal situations. it’s less The Super and more The Prestiege. There is some pseudo-science at play here that can make or break the movie for some people. For the sake of not getting too spoilery, let’s just say that you shouldn’t try to apply a lot of logic to Bo’s unique trick he develops throughout the movie. Unfortunately, when you set a movie in a realistic setting, when you introduce more fantastical elements they tend to get held to higher scrutiny.
The movie is hit and miss for me, tho I’d still recommend giving it a watch. Some of the misses are that the love story feels rushed, the science is wonky, it’s mostly predictable and it can be hard to feel for the protagonist when he’s the reason for his own misery. For being so intelligent he makes some dumb-ass decisions. However, Dulé’s performance, the overall concept, some clever uses of magic tricks and a decent payoff when Bo finally puts his more unique magic skills to work to save the day deliver enough hits to make me not regret watching it.
Like the movie Unbreakable, Sleight feels like it is a set-up to something bigger and better that may never come. I’d love to see the evolution of Sleight into an original urban super hero franchise. Luke Cage can’t have all the fun now, and who knows if we’ll ever get a Static Shock live action series?