Sleeping Dogs

March 22, 202440/1006 min
Russell Crowe, Karen Gillan, Marton Csokas
Written by
Adam Cooper and Bill Collage ( written by), E.O. Chirovici ( novel by)
Directed by
Adam Cooper
Run Time
1h 50min
Release Date
March 22nd, 2024
Overall Score
Rating Summary

I love a good crime procedural, but I always notice something in most of them. No matter how old the case is, someone can ask a detective about it and they are able to recall every little detail from the case. I am sure that that can be because of the crimes and the personal attachments to the cases they may develop. Sleeping Dogs tackles the recall of a case in a different way: what if the detective had early stages of Alzheimer’s, and his recall could save a life? The idea is appealing, but is that idea carried out to deliver a good movie?

Roy Freeman (Russell Crowe) used to be a cop, but those days ended when he did something he shouldn’t have. Now, he is battling Alzheimer’s, but Roy is also taking part in an experiment that hopes to spark his memory back again. Roy’s life is pretty uneventful, but someone has come to talk to Roy about a case he worked, where the man is about to be put to death for that crime. There seems to be evidence that he didn’t commit the crime, and while Roy can’t remember, he starts to investigate that case from long ago. As he starts to talk to people, mainly his ex-partner Jimmy (Tommy Flanagan), who doesn’t really know why Roy wants to dig into something that has already been proven. Roy disregards that reasoning and continues his look at all the information he can get. His snooping leads him to Laura Baines (Karen Gillan), someone he interviewed originally, but this time, things are not sitting right. Slowly Roy starts to uncover the truth, but by the end it may be something he might not want to hear.

Written by Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, the latter also directing, from E.O. Chirovid’s novel, Sleeping Dogs biggest hurdle is that it’s difficult to follow. The story is told through Freeman’s perspective and uses flashbacks to help visualize the past, making it feel very convoluted. Cooper seems to have wanted to make a combined stylized noir and a grounded contemporary drama, neither of which he does very satisfyingly. Not delivering either of those is just one bump in the road, as there are quite a few more, making Sleeping Dogs feel like it is stuck in the mud at times. The idea of a detective re-investigating a case with unwillingly fresh eyes sounds like something that would work well. Maybe in another movie it would, but this one squanders that potential.

Sleeping Dogs isn’t trying to reinvent anything here, but it also fails on the entertainment level as well. It wants to tell this riveting detective story, but it never gets close to living up to that. Most of the cast is dull and not well-written, with the exception of Crowe, who gives Roy a quiet dignity and keeps the film from being a total wash. With a nearly two-hour runtime, Sleeping Dogs passes a subtle ending for one that is on the more ridiculous level. When you add the choppy editing, the film just ends up lacking any style, something it wants desperately to have. Crowe’s performance and the idea of the story might be enough for some, but in my opinion, it is best to leave this dog sleeping.

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