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Sleeping Dogs

Just last month, war flick Land of Bad starring Russell Crowe hit cinemas. Exciting and action-packed, it was praised for it's excellent lead performance from Crowe. Now, enter mystery/thriller Sleeping Dogs, something quite the opposite. This time, Crowe is playing a detective with Alzheimer's – he's booked and busy as of recent, undertaking a mixture of projects and a blend of genres.

Sleeping Dogs, despite it's solid lead performance, is an unfortunately bland affair that bumbles its way through the first two acts, eventually hitting a predictable and over-stuffed climax that throws in many twists that make little sense and are purely there for shock factor.


Suffering from memory loss, a former homicide detective tries to solve a brutal murder that he can't recall. As he pieces together evidence from a decade-old investigation, he soon uncovers a sinister web of buried secrets tied to his forgotten past.


Crowe is an extremely talented actor and it's great to see him undertake a range of projects, particularly those of a smaller budget. His performance as Roy Freeman is what stops Sleeping Dogs from becoming entirely unwatchable. Freeman is a homicide detective whose memory loss prevents him from remembering key elements from a case that he worked on some years ago; he is a complex character, grappling with a lot, and Crowe does well with him, though it won't be his most memorable turn. Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) stars opposite, and is as good as she can be. The material she's given doesn't really allow her to show her range, and her character is not the most interesting. The same can be said for all side performances; it's hard for the actors to shine, as the script is severely undercooked and fails to give them any distinct personality traits or any form of development. Unfortunately, this makes it appear that none of our cast members really want to be there, as they're all awkwardly sleepwalking through each scene with minimal presence.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs nearly hits the two hour mark, and it's only during the last 20-odd minutes that things become interesting. The first two acts are bland, uninspired and quite frankly painful to sit through at times. Watching a detective slowly piece things together sounds intriguing on paper, and it can be when it's done well, however, Sleeping Dogs fails because of one simple reason – the mystery isn't interesting enough. Due to the sub-par dialogue, incredibly slow pace and awkward performances, it's really hard to get behind its mystery and care about the outcome. There are a few lines of engaging conversation, and one or two scenes that manage to capture your attention, but they don't stick around long. It even borders on difficult to follow at times, which completely takes you out of it.

There are some interesting ideas at play here, particularly surrounding our lead characters Alzheimer's, but they aren't explored at all – this theme really had the potential to give Sleeping Dogs edge, but they missed the mark. As Freeman uncovers the mystery, he also in turn uncovers areas of his past life that have been long forgotten. Though an interesting way to develop the character, as soon as the audience realise that Freeman may not be a particularly good person, it becomes increasingly difficult to root for him. None of the characters are likeable here – there's no one worth rooting for. Sleeping Dogs has no heart, no intrigue and doesn't deliver as competent a mystery as it thinks it does.

Sleeping Dogs

The final act delivers twists and turns aplenty, and finally gives Crowe a chance to put some spring in his step – but at what cost? Not only are a couple of the twists utterly predictable from the movies halfway point, but the ones that aren't are dumb and simply don't work. There's far too many turns in the story, most of which feel shoved in for shock factor rather than to improve the storyline. Due to it having a little more gusto and action than the previous two acts, the ending is passable at best, but the pay-off is just not good enough to warrant the messy, confusing, convoluted and dull acts that came before it.

Sleeping Dogs relies heavily on the lead performance from Russell Crowe, therefore forcing him to be the strongest asset. Unfortunately, everything else surrounding him is lacklustre. There is definitely a good story somewhere within this script, but the convoluted and boring approach stops audiences from receiving that story. It isn't completely terrible, as there are a few moments of intrigue placed throughout and an ending that some may get some dumb fun out of. It's too ironic to say that a film about Alzheimer's is unmemorable, but it is the best way to describe this dull affair.


Rating Sleeping Dogs



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