EDITOR’S NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS. So if you haven’t seen Sleight, I recommend you stop reading this post and go see this film.
Sleight is a 2017 American film about a young street magician with unique abilities trying to survive the tough streets of Los Angeles. The film follows a young man named Bo (portrayed by Jacob Latimore) who is left to care for his younger sister Tina (Storm Reid) after losing his mother a few years earlier to unknown reasons. The movie picks up during the day with Bo working as a street magician showcasing his amazing skills with card tricks. He later runs into a young girl working at a coffee shop named Holly (Seychelle Gabriel) where he showcases telekinetic abilities, levitating a ring in the palms of his hands. Impressed by this, Holly slips him her phone number in his collection bag.
Later that night we find Bo out in the streets working his second job selling cocaine and molly to various people montage style. He eventually meets up with his plug, Angelo (Dulé Hill), who is a no-nonsense drug lord hell bent on running the streets of L.A. Here is where our story truly begins. Like any situation dealing with drug dealers, Bo ends up in very compromising situations. After having to be forced to mutilate a rival drug dealer for his boss Angelo, Bo is determined to get out of the drug game and provide a decent life for him and his younger sister outside of Los Angeles.
Bo, who is alluded to being a genius, makes a really dumb move by cutting Angelo’s supply to break even and quit the game for good. Nevertheless, this gets back to Angelo and he marks Bo a dead man forcing him to cough over twice the amount of his supply cost. Distraught, Bo does everything he can to get his money but it’s not enough for Angelo who eventually kidnaps his sister until Bo brings him his money. Afterwards, we see Bo use his powers to its full extent to get his sister back.
Sleight is promoted as Chronicle meets Ironman with a grounded storyline with minor elements commonly seen in several of the Marvel films. However, the comparisons to any other films end there. The film fits in a world of its own and has no shame playing into it with a small cast of characters filmed on a small budget with a story that is just as small. One of the pros is the development of Bo through during the film’s short runtime. We see a happy-go-lucky street kid whose life is turned upside down in a matter of days in which he has to risk everything to get his life back to a carefree state.
Given the plot and Bo’s unique powers, it is unfair to compare this to any superhero film. Instead, it falls into the genre of Afrofuturism since it blends aspects of African-American culture and some futuristic themes. However, the plot, like many superhero flicks, is quite predictable. I found myself predicting the film’s outcome about thirty minutes in. Most of the supporting cast did exactly what they needed to do to help get the plot moving forward, but the character of Holly seemed a little out of place in the overall story. I get she seemed to be a sort of motivation for the lead character, but in some aspects she could have been disposed of or used in the place of Bo’s friend, Georgi (Sasheer Zamata). And the performance of Angelo by Dulé Hill was a bit lackluster from what he’s done in the past. He’s supposed to be a big, bad thug but comes off as nonthreatening and quite comical.
Overall, if you’re looking for a good film to watch and don’t want to waste two to three hours in a theater, Sleight is the perfect film for that. And if you’re anything like me and patiently waiting for Black Panther to drop, then this will also suffice until 2018.