Sleeping Dogs has sharp directional flair evident, particularly in the action segments, taut performances by the large cast and a handsome technical gloss in all departments.
When the pictures are left to tell the story they do it with great visual impact. The script is less successful.
The story is a political thriller [from the novel Smith’s Dream by Karl Stead], set in New Zealand of the near future, and sees the small democracy taken over by the rightist party in power, via rigged shooting at a street demonstration. Overnight a police state is set up, and a counter-revolutionary force of freedom-fighters starts hitting back.
As Smith, Sam Neill is natural. He projects the right intensity for a man caught up in an Orwellian nightmare.