Sleight is a small film with big ideas and lots of imagination. Made on a shoestring budget of $250,000, it combines several genres to deliver an exciting independent film with franchise potential. This is the first mainstream feature film from director J.D. Dillard who previously worked as a receptionist for J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company.
After losing both of his parents, a young street magician named Bo (Jacob Latimore) turns to making fast money by drug running for a big time drug dealer, to better take care of himself and his little sister. With this simple premise, Dillard gives us a variety of cinematic moments. This film acts as a crime drama as Bo prowls the streets of Los Angeles selling product to a variety of characters. This is also a family drama, as we see the connection and love that he has for his little sister. There are also romantic elements as Bo becomes involved with an equally troubled young woman.
Sleight really becomes exciting when the science fiction elements take over. As the film progresses, Bo is forced to utilize his special powers to protect himself and his loved ones. Without this added element, this may have been just a stereotypical street film. In essence, that’s what makes this film unique. It takes a commonplace urban crime story and gives it new life with its supernatural and super heroic elements. Dillard takes his time with the pacing of the film, giving us time to inhabit Bo’s reality. It may be a little too much of a slow burn at times, but the climax of the film makes it satisfying.
It takes time to get to the real action, but once we get there, it is thoroughly entertaining. Because the action comes so late in the film, it actually creates anticipation for a second film where we can really see our hero in action. In the realm of first time indie films, Sleight is a triumph.