The superhero genre remains the most popular type of movie in Hollywood, and has been for the last two decades, but it’s not all about effects-driven blockbusters with $200 million budgets designed to earn billions and deliver crowd-pleasing spectacle on the grandest scale possible.
There’ve been a number of interesting spins on the standard tropes of the genre, with Chronicle telling a coming-of-age story through found footage, while Brightburn took things into the realm of horror and essentially told an evil Superman tale, and James Gunn’s Super is an exploration of trauma and mental illness, to name but three.
One overlooked and unsung effort has been playing very well on Netflix since being added to the library, with Sleight following a young street magician who turns to dealing drugs after the death of his mother to support his kid sister. When she gets kidnapped by his dealer, our intrepid protagonist uses his intelligence and penchant for sleight of hand to rescue his sibling and save the day.
Co-written and directed by J.D. Dillard, Sleight was a modest success at the box office after earning $4 million on a shoestring budget of $250,000, while solid reviews have it sitting on a Rotten Tomatoes score of 78%. Coincidentally, it’s the second film produced by WWE Studios to find a new life on streaming, with the wrestling outfit’s production company also responsible for Colin Farrell’s forgotten thriller Dead Man Down, which has been troubling the Top 10 most-watched list for the last week.
The superhero and sci-fi genres are as malleable as any, so when you take the two of them and mix them up in street-level story that maximizes every penny and throws it up there on the screen, you get an underrated gem like Sleight.