‘Sleeping Dogs’ Movie Recap & Ending Explained: Who Really Killed Weider?

Adam Cooper’s directorial debut, Sleeping Dogs, follows a theme similar to Nolan’s Memento and even the Stan original, The Tourist. In this psychological thriller starring Russell Crowe, memories play a central role as a former cop with Alzheimer’s reopens a case from nearly ten years ago. We, as humans, are the culmination of all our past experiences—good and bad ones included. These experiences forge our character and make us the people we are. However, one can’t help but wonder who we would be if these memories were to be erased. For a bioscience graduate who has spent a semester writing a review article on this disorder, Alzheimer’s might just be my biggest nightmare. This disorder, at best, can be prevented, but there is no known cure, which makes it more understandable why Roy Freeman undergoes the painful procedure of getting electrodes implanted in his head.

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Spoilers Ahead 


Why Does Roy Decide To Reinvestigate Weider’s Murder?

Not much is known about Roy’s history, but as the narrative unfolds, Roy is drawn into a vicious web branching out from his own past. After his surgery, a painful and risky experimental procedure to regain his memories, Roy goes through an excruciating recovery. At the time of the surgery, his Alzheimer’s had already progressed to the point where he couldn’t even remember his name. During his post-op recovery, he has put up notes all over his apartment to remind himself of his name and other necessities before stepping out. One day, Roy receives a call from a woman named Emily Dietz. She works as a representative for a non-profit organization that provides legal support to the prisoners who have been wrongly incarcerated. During the meeting at a bar, Emily brings up the case of Isaac Samuel, whom she believes to have been falsely incarcerated on death row 10 years ago. Roy was one of the detectives who interrogated Isaac on the night of the murder. The next month, Isaac’s time on death row will come to an end, and because of that, Isaac has put in a plea to meet with Roy. 

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Ten years ago, Isaac had been accused of murdering Dr. Joseph Weider, a renowned psychologist and professor at Waterford College. Although Isaac had even admitted to committing the crime, he now claims that he didn’t commit the crime at all and was intimidated by the detectives into admitting to these charges as he was quite intoxicated during the interrogation. Isaac claims that Dr. Weider testified against him after he was caught stealing baby formula for his son. He visited Dr. Weider the night of his murder to convince the psychologist to clear his name, but when he got there, he could hear someone else beating Dr. Weider to death. He didn’t see who the culprit was and ran away as soon as he could.

When Roy goes to the prison to meet Isaac, Isaac requests that he find out the truth. Isaac’s plea is quite convincing; moreover, having lost all the memories of his past life, Roy really gets to wondering if he even did his job properly. This is why he takes it upon himself to reopen this ten-year-old investigation. 

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What Does Roy Find Out About Richard Finn?

Roy’s doctors had asked him to engage his head in stimulating activities, because of which he sees this reinvestigation as a suitable outlet. He goes through the case files and finds inconsistencies and loopholes in the investigation he and his partner led back then. Wondering why he would’ve even made such blunders, Roy seeks out his partner, Jimmy Remis. Jimmy seems quite happy to see Roy, but as soon as he brings up the Weider murder, his smile fades. Regardless, he pretends he doesn’t remember much from the case. Roy mentions how, according to the files, they found Richard Finn’s fingerprints all over the house but never bothered to bring him in for questioning. Jimmy replies that they didn’t need to follow it up as Isaac had already admitted to the crime by then. 

Unable to find any help with the case from Jimmy, Finn returns home to look for other clues. He receives a call from Jimmy informing him that he’s found Richard Finn, who has already died of a fentanyl overdose. At the mortuary, Roy spots that there was only a single needle hole in his arm, implying that he had probably been murdered. However, Jimmy suggests that Finn probably just become a junkie instead. Finn had visited Isaac a few days ago to write a book on him, and for this reason too, finding out more about him was crucial to Roy’s investigation. 

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Roy attends Finn’s funeral, where he meets Eddie, Finn’s brother, who gives Roy a manuscript of Finn’s book, called ‘Book of Mirrors.’ Eddie doesn’t have a lot of great things to say about Richard, but he firmly insists that Richard was not into drugs at all. 


What Happened In Finn’s Past? 

Roy returns home to read the manuscript of the book he received from Eddie. The book is a dramatized memoir of his own life from when he was studying for a doctorate at Waterford College. To be precise, this book was about his romance with his former lover, Laura Baines, which developed into obsession and paranoia. He met Laura, a psychology major, at a college mixer and developed an immediate connection with her. After that evening, Laura and Finn became inseparable. Finn even felt invincible when he was with her. Laura was quite intelligent; she spoke five languages and had a double bachelor, which mesmerized Finn. Moreover, Laura recognized his talents too and thought he was quite a genius himself, which made him feel quite validated. This relationship, however, lasted only a few months, and things began to change after Dr. Weider came into the picture. Dr. Weider was Laura’s research fellow. Laura connected them because Weider wanted a curator for his private library, and Finn was perfect for the role. 

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As the months passed, Laura became distant from him. Over time, it even seemed that Laura was cheating on Finn with Dr. Weider. In the book, Finn mentions that he was quite convinced that Laura and Finn were more than just colleagues. Moreover, while sorting the books in Weider’s library, he found a research draft, called ‘The Mirror Effect.’ This paper was supposedly a work by Weider, but under his name, Laura had written her own name in pen. It seemed Laura was eager to be published as well, alongside the professor. Before Weider died, he had asked Finn to stop seeing Laura and expected him to comply, but he never did. Some time later, Weider was murdered, and Isaac was accused of the crime. He found out that Laura had been fighting Weider’s attorney’s claim that The Mirror Effect was his own research until she disappeared completely. The manuscript ends abruptly, as Finn never finished it; however, he makes an implication towards the end that Laura might’ve had a motive to kill Weider. 


What Does Laura Have To Say About Weider’s Murder? 

Roy tracks down Dana Finn, Richard’s wife, to find out more about him. Like Eddie, even Dana backs Richard, claiming that he was not a junkie, and that he stayed away from drugs. Though he did have a drinking problem at times, Dana doesn’t think that Richard’s death was an accident and believes that a woman named Elizabeth Westlake had something to do with it. 

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Dana had overheard Richard arguing with Elizabeth in a very aggressive manner; she had never seen him talk to anyone like that before, despite his mood swings. Later, Roy looks up Elizabeth on the internet, and as it turns out, Elizabeth Westlake is Laura Baines’ new identity. Roy finds Elizabeth at her university and hands her Finn’s manuscript, but Elizabeth claims that Finn was a stalker and made her feel unsafe. Moreover, seeing Elizabeth, Roy seems to remember a glimpse of her. He feels that he has met her before. After reading the manuscript, Laura/Elizabeth visits Roy at his apartment and clarifies that it is purely fictional. Elizabeth claims that Finn’s memoirs were either highly fictionalized or he used to very often fabricate events in his works, which is why his words cannot be trusted. 


Why Did Roy Visit Wayne? 

Wayne Devereux is a butcher now, but back when Weider was still alive, he used to work as Weider’s maintenance man. Eventually, Weider convinced Wayne to let him test a new PTSD drug on him. Wayne, being a former Iraq war veteran, suffered from severe PTSD, which made him a perfect candidate for the trial. Wayne readily agreed to try the drug, but the side effects were too severe for him to continue. Devereux says that he had no hard feelings against Weider, but at this point, Roy couldn’t trust anyone. Moreover, Devereux verified some of the claims that Finn had made in his manuscript. 

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Wayne Devereux also discloses that Weider was frequented by a lot of women, including Diane Lynch, a bartender at a local bar who died nearly five years ago. Weider had even kept consented-to videos of their intimate encounters, which Devereux had personally seen as well. However, despite Weider’s perverted behavior, Devereux felt that he was not a bad person. Later on, while taking a walk to get some fresh air, a car tries to run Roy over, but Roy shoots and kills the driver. It turns out the driver is none other than Devereux himself. Because of this attempt on his life, Roy is convinced that he is knocking on the right doors. He also believes that it is possible that Elizabeth might be involved in this. Throughout the encounters Roy had with Elizabeth, she seemed pretty good at manipulating people. 


How Do Jimmy And Elizabeth Die? 

Throughout the movie, Jimmy is seen discouraging Roy’s investigation, and when he starts to suspect Jimmy’s own involvement in the murder, it upsets Jimmy. It also seems that Roy’s implants have started working, as he can now gradually remember glimpses of his memories. When he visits the late Weider’s house, he seems to remember instances from their investigation from ten years ago. These memories prompt him to start digging in the house’s backyard, and unexpectedly, he ends up finding the murder weapon, a baseball bat. 

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As soon as he digs out the bat, he is joined by Elizabeth and Jimmy. Jimmy threatens them to head inside at gunpoint and argues with Roy that he should’ve let the case be, but he couldn’t sit idle, and his sniffing around uncovered the chaos that had been buried ten years ago. What follows is a Mexican standoff between Laura/Elizabeth and Jimmy, with both of them hurling accusations at each other, further confusing Roy as to who really is responsible for the murder. Roy comes to the conclusion that Jimmy and Laura were in this together. His hypothesis is that, to find money for his wife’s treatment, Jimmy took money from Laura to kill Weider so that she could publish her book, then he framed Isaac Samuel to cover it all up. 

Laura, on the other hand, argues that she never knew Jimmy until Roy’s accident and that he blackmailed her into paying him using proof that her work belonged to Weider, implying that Jimmy killed Finn too. But then, Jimmy interjects that Laura was adept at manipulation and had convinced Devereux, a professional, to kill Finn. Devereux thought he was going to be framed for Weider’s murder. She practically manipulated Jimmy into killing Finn to keep him quiet. Later, she again used Devereux’s help to kill Roy but failed. Before Jimmy can finish his statement, however, Laura shows her true colors and shoots Jimmy, who shoots back at her. Laura dies immediately, but before Jimmy dies, he says that, whatever he did, he did for Roy.

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Who Really Killed Weider? 

With the truth presumably out in the open now, Isaac is exonerated after ten years of unjust incarceration. Even Roy’s condition seems to be improving as well. Roy goes home and realizes it’s time to move on in his life now and starts packing up, but before doing so, he tries to look at the picture of his wife in a photo frame. The glass on his wife’s face had been shattered, and he never tried to find out what she looked like either. But now, he felt, was the time to do so. As he removes the shattered glass to get a better look, his wife turns out to be none other than Diane Lynch. The bartender who was sleeping with Dr. Weider. 

In a surprising twist, it is revealed that Laura had indeed wanted Weider dead, but at the hands of Roy himself. She deliberately showed the video footage Weider took of his wife, which infuriated him even more. In the end, it was Roy who visited Weider with the baseball bat and bludgeoned him to death. However, Jimmy visited Weider on time to see what had happened, and he diligently worked against the system to protect his friend Roy and frame the innocent boy instead. In the end, Roy is seen picking up the gun as he proceeds to shoot himself. 

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In Sleeping Dogs‘ ending, this revelation hints back at a theory that Dr. Weider had suggested about how the subconscious brain deliberately tries to forget traumatic events. Roy, too, had forgotten completely about Weider manipulating his wife into sleeping with him. As soon as he has his memories back, he cannot seem to take them anymore. 


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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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