BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Sleepers (1996)

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

BQB here with a review of “Sleepers.”

In the 1960s, four wayward boys growing up in Hell’s Kitchen end up in a reform school where they are abused in unspeakable ways.


In the 1980s, after “sleeping” or lying in wait for years, they strike against the guards that abused them.  Shakes (Jason Patric), a newspaper clerk, serves as narrator/orchestrator of the grand plan while prosecutor Brad Pitt throws a case to get friends Tommy and John (Billy Crudup and Ron Eldard) off the hook for shooting the most abusive guard, Nokes (Kevin Bacon) in a restaurant in plain sight of multiple witnesses.

It’s a tale that weaves across several decades, proving that pain knows no time limit, nor the desire to settle the score.  While the plan to give the guards their comeuppance is masterful, it is somewhat sad to see that revenge, even when carried out to perfection, doesn’t always heal old wounds.

There is, of course, the moral debate.  Did the guards deserve their comeuppance?  Yes.  Did they deserve murder?  Debatable.  On the one hand, they were terrible people who did terrible things.  On the other hand, we do have a criminal justice system and perhaps the boys turned adults could have exposed their crimes instead.

Rounding out the cast is Robert DeNiro as the priest who stood by the boys in their youth and again in adulthood.  He must make a choice whether or not to lie under oath and it is clearly a choice he does not take lightly.

“The Count of Monte Cristo” features prominently in the story, the Count having once been a prisoner who lied in wait for years before finally getting his revenge.

One thing that struck me is this film has a number of actors who went on to do bigger things but played bit parts in this film.  I can’t think of their names but rather just their later characters.  Bunchy from Ray Donovan is a bully in the reform school, Roger Sterling from Mad Men is an English teach who introduces the boys to the Count of Monte Cristo, Michael from Burn Notice is one of the guards and Bunk from the Wire is a gangster that helps with the revenge plot.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

Tagged ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: