So far, I’ve seen some pretty fantastic films at Sundance this year, but one that I would truly recommend to anyone is Sleight. The movie stars Jacob Latimore and Seychelles Gabriel and is directed by J.D. Dillard.
It follows the story of a bright young man named Bo (Latimore) with a scholarship whose mother dies shortly after graduating. He gives up the scholarship and decides to start dealing drugs so he can help take care of his little sister. But he’s ready to give it up after meeting a cute girl and realizing the risks are becoming too great. So what’s the catch? It sounds like any other Sundance film about an inner city kid dealing drugs…. of which there are many. Well, he is a street magician. And with 5 words, this movie just became the coolest story ever!
Both Jacob and Seychelles were fantastic. They had a blossoming relationship that seemed real and interesting. Although their relationship did move a bit quicker than may be believable to some, they had moments of honesty that made their love seem likely. The real breakout actor in this film for me, however was Dule Hill. I’ve mostly seen him play a bumbling yet lovable sidekick on the TV series Psych, so when I first saw him, the last thing I expected was a violent drug dealer. And yet, he was remarkable as the charismatic yet psychopathic dealer who could flip on a dime. One moment he’d be inviting you in with a smile and then bam, punch in the face, again and again and again.
What really stood out to me, however, was that this movie kind of played out as a superhero movie with elements of a thriller that made it realistic. Bo used his sleight of hand and knowledge of street magic to help him outsmart cops, criminals, and anyone out to get him. But what this movie did right was his power wasn’t fighting. It was his wits. There was a fight scene in the movie, and it was awesome, and it didn’t require saving the world, and it wasn't overly orchestrated. As I watched this movie, I was reminded of the last few Marvel movies I’ve seen. Now I loved them, but one issue I’ve had is that the world is always in jeopardy in them. In this movie, this kid develops a type of superpower that he uses for criminal ways but turns it around without the world being in jeopardy. The last few scenes of the film were very intense, but because of an internal struggle and different kinds of stakes than world destruction. This movie was more intense than any DC or Marvel superhero movie I’ve seen and kept me on the edge of my seat.
J.D. Dillard is a name that you should keep your eye on. I have no doubt he is a director we will be seeing more of. His ability to capture action and intensity without the overuse of special effects is truly remarkable. If you get a chance, check out this movie. It is the coolest superhero film I’ve ever seen, because it shows that there are more than one way to be a hero, and more than one way to make the stakes high.