Sleight Review: Good Premise Poor Execution
Directed By:J.D. Dillard
Staring: Jacob Latimore, Seychelle Gabriel, Dulé Hill, Storm Reid
Writers: J.D. Dillard (as Jd Dillard), Alex Theurer
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Synopsis: A young street magician is left to care for his little sister after their parents passing, and turns to illegal activities to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets in too deep, his sister is kidnapped, and he is forced to use his magic and brilliant mind to save her.
Sleight is Not a Super Hero Film
WWE Studios has had a lot of fails over time and this film is not one of them. It is being billed as a super hero film which its not, but it is an origin story. The film basically takes place with Bo (Jacob Latimore) trying to provide for his little sister after both of his parents pass away. In order to make life okay for her he does street magic during the day and sells party drugs at night. During the film he meets Holly (Sychelle Gabriel) who takes a liking to his magic and ends up being his GF and a big part of the plot. Eventually he gets in too deep with the drug lord Angelo (Dule Hill) and Angelo ends up kidnapping his sister as collateral for a drug payment. Sleight is a new and interesting take on sci-fi and a good origin story for someone who went through terrible tragedy.
Sleight’s take on the struggle of a kid who was rushed into adulthood was refreshing to see on screen especially with black representation. The writing did not make this an after school special on drug dealing or going down the wrong path it presented as a tale of survival and about a young man dealing with a lot, but doing what he has to to survive and provide. The pacing and editing on this film was a bit off, and there were scenes that seemed disjointed or put in the wrong place in the film which could be a bit confusing.
What makes Sleight interesting is the presentation of the different characters. Angelo the drug lord comes off as this clean cut businessman that you don’t necessarily buy as a drug lord, however he is presented as this tough guy that you should be afraid of. There is a scene where Angelo wants to go send a message to a new drug dealer on his turf and he gets these two “street thugs” and then ask Bo to come almost as a business proposal. There is also a disconnect on some of the more emotional scenes because the actors can’t completely pull it off. While the writing is off in some parts, the emotion is felt through the circumstance, but the acting does not display it. As a result you feel bad for the characters but you don’t connect. Sleight does a good job of presenting a tale of hope, although it uses some tropes that we have seen in many films.
Lastly this film had an extremely small budget of $250,000 and they uses every bit of it. The magic special effects and the use of his “powers” was done really well, but it was not done often. They kept the film in a couple locations and had very basic set pieces. Bo essentially had the powers of Magneto but it was done through science. When you watch the film you want to see him use his powers more often, but when he did it was cool.