Rated R, 90 minutes
The familiar yet compelling and well-acted new low-budget drama "Sleight" is a nice mixture of street drama and magic. It's nothing new, but it makes some nice statements of the things of the lengths we go
After his mother's death, young street magician Bo (Jacob Latimore) turns to dealing drugs at parties to support his little sister Tina (Storm Reid). When she is kidnapped by his supplier (Dule Hill of the TV show "Psych"), he uses his sleight of hand and keen intelligence to find her.
Directed and written by J.D. Dillard in his feature film debut, "Sleight" is a decent thriller and serviceable first big-screen feature with a stark sheen to it, grounded by a strong performance from singer Latimore of the recent "Collateral Beauty," as the young street magician faced with the challenge of getting his young sister back from his psycho drug supplier. The scenes of magic and illusion make it worthwhile, though the rest of it seems predictable and overly gritty
Hill, cast again type as the villain, delivers it fine, but it's also the most standard of all the characters in the film, and you sense your seeing junior-level version of Denzel Washington from "Training Day." Sasheer Zamata of "Saturday Night Live" has some warm scenes as the compassionate, sensible next-door neighbor who also serves as a de facto parental figure for both Bo and Tina; Seychelle Gabriel's girlfriend role has a few believable notes as well, though her character isn't given much to do.
Dillard also infuses some heavy-handed blood and violence, particularly with the excising of some limbs of a rival drug supplier, while the extra-gritty ending seems entirely different than the rest of the film, which deals with a myriad of different, darker issues. On the plus side, Latimore is affecting and by far the most memorable part of the film, on the down side, it seems like a slightly grittier version of TV's "Criminal Minds."
Both Dillard and Latimore have a future in movies, and the ultra-low budget indie "Sleight" is a mildly entertaining stepping stone for them.