Sleight may not deliver the Black superhero movie you might crave, but it is surely an appetizer for what is likely to come in the future.
Characters & Storyline
Growing up in the less affluent areas of Los Angeles, and now an orphan taking care of his little sister, Bo (Jacob Latimore) has a lot on his shoulders. He is barely out of high school, his little sister Tina (Storm Reid) isn’t even out of middle school and he is just trying to hold it down. Maintain some type of normalcy for her. This is partly accomplished thanks to their neighbor Georgi (Sasheer Zamata) watching Tina when she can, but mostly hustling is where Bo gets his money.
It is also what leads to the conflict of the movie. For Bo works for a man named Angelo (Dulé Hill) who is a local distributor. At first, Bo keeps it light by just selling to particular clients or at this club his friend Luna (Cameron Esposito) works at. However, as Angelo’s ambitions grow and another person tries to come onto his turf, Bo is forced to step up and be more than a dealer but get blood on his hands. Thus really jumpstarting his needs to get the hell out of the neighborhood he is in and try to start over. Though, as you can imagine, that is easier said than done.
Latimore Continues To Prove Himself Capable of Being a Leading Man
With the exception of Bilal and his TV appearances, I have seen all of Latimore’s movies. With that said, I truly believe that when conversations come up about who is going to be the next generation to follow Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and the Black male actors who broke through and got to be mainstream, Latimore has to be part of the conversation. I mean, the young man has gone toe to toe with the greats, or those with longevity, as seen in Collateral Beauty and even his first film, Black Nativity, which was a bit of a disappointment, he found a way to shine despite that.
Focusing on his role in Sleight though, I feel like this film is almost like an audition tape for bigger and better things. He proves himself capable of being the leading man in terms of charisma, his ability to be a love interest, and also be believable when working with special effects. Also, when he gets in that mindset of wanting to hurt or kill someone, it is believable. Making you honestly feel that if Static (Shock) ever comes to be, nevermind Jaden Smith. Jacob Latimore needs to be the front runner.
Good Chemistry Amongst The Cast
Whether it is Bo and Angelo, Bo and Tina, Bi, Georgi, and Tina, or Bo and his little girlfriend Holly (Seychelle Gabriel), the way each actor works with one another makes for compelling and believable relationships. Not the type which relies on grandeur gestures to show love and affection, but little things like being there, hugging someone when you know they need it, and showing genuine concern which isn’t paired with unnecessary theatrics.
Heck, even when it comes to Bo and Angelo, as slightly corny as Angelo can seem, you can tell his persona and what he expects of Bo comes not from malice at all. Their relationship comes from him seeing a young man struggling who he wants to help. Hence why when Bo makes certain decisions, he is deeply hurt by them.
On The Fence
Bo isn’t some kind of mutant. If anything, he is like a poor man’s Tony Stark. With that, you have to admit it is cool to see, in one weekend, two Black guys heavily into S.T.E.M. [note]The other being John Boyega’s character in The Circle[/note]. However, being that we are sort of at an origin story stage, and Bo isn’t in pursuit of being some kind of superhero, his powers are mostly shown through magic. On top of that, when they are used for heroic acts, while very cool, we only get one scene of them really being used that way. Which, depending on how much of a Black superhero fix you needed, this may or may not disappoint you.
Weak Love Interest
While Gabriel as Holly does have a backstory and some sort of goals, I must admit there was this desire to see more out of her. Heck, considering the lack of scenes in which Bo uses his powers, it would have been cool if maybe he saved her from a bad situation, considering her home life.
Though, another issue with Holly is that she seems sort of written to quickly and easily get your sympathy. Cheaply, through showing she is abused, that is how Gabriel is able to get you to connect with her character and while she may not use it as a crutch, neither she or the character builds off, or past, that introduction. Making her just the cute girlfriend who quickly melds into Bo’s life because he is nice and she doesn’t have much of a better alternative.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
I personally liked the film, but it is one of those types of films where you can tell a limited budget kept it from its full potential. Yet, from what we are given, you will surely want to take note of the main actors in the film and see where their careers travel to. For if this is what they were capable of within the confines of a reportedly quarter million dollar, budget? Imagine the type of work they could do when the teams behind them are able to match their abilities.