May 3, 2017

Sleight Review

Jacob Latimore

Sleight—or, rather, slight—probably describes your knowledge of this sort-of superhero indie from WWE Studios and Jason Blum’s imprint, Blumhouse Tilt. That lack of awareness is a shame. In a cinematic day and age where superhero movies are a dime a dozen, minor flicks like J.D. Dillard’s feature debut are easily lost in the shuffle. However, with low stakes comes great entertainment, and the slighter expectations bred by this flick enable it to get the most bang for its low budget. Now the movie just needs people to see it so they can enjoy it.

Superhero origin stories may mostly tell the same story, but it is amazing how much more interesting they are when they have not been told a thousand times (cough, cough… Spider-Man, Batman). High-school graduate and science whiz Bo Wolfe (Jacob Latimore, who will probably be starring in a bigger one of these flicks soon) has to turn to street magic and drug dealing in order to raise his little sister, Tina (Storm Reid), after the sudden death of their mother. 

Needing a boost for his magic skills, Bo uses his science skills to rig up an electromagnet in his arm—think a less life-saving arc reactor in Tony Stark’s chest. Even then, some of Bo’s magic tricks are not simply explained by the power of magnetism. Luckily, though, he can use his powers to get out of a self-created jam with local drug lord Angelo (Dulé Hill). The movie even ends with the off-screen promise of bigger and better powers, though audiences are more likely to see Dillard and Latimore heading up a big-budget superhero movie than a Sleight sequel.

Dillard brilliantly conceals the miniscule budget (a reported $250,000) in a movie that feels larger, mostly thanks to it being smarter. Providing the world with a new black superhero is a public service, though I think it is a rare instance where a PG-13 rating would have benefited both the film and its audience. Sure, Deadpool and Logan proved bawdy, bloody comic-book action is doable; still, the vast majority of comic-book flicks are perfect examples of why PG-13 should exist. They are certainly better exemplars than most watered-down PG-13 horror movies. Shed the narratively unnecessary F-bombs, and you have a superhero movie to show all the kids that superpowers are not only cool, but colorblind.