A fairly close remake of an outstanding Norwegian movie of the same name, Insomnia
is director Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his breakthrough movie Memento
. It's very much the sort of project that seems designed to be a stepping-stone from independent glory to the Hollywood A-list status. It has the right subject matter, stars (Al Pacino, Robin Williams), supporting cast (Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan), an audience-friendly intellectual thriller format and enough bizarre cinematic ideas to allow for directorial bravura.
Evading the heat of an Internal Affairs investigation, Los Angeles hotshot homicide cop Dormer (Pacino) flies north to Alaska to dig into the murder of a local girl--but a botched trap for the killer leads to a foggy shoot-out that goes wrong. This leads to an alliance between the cop and the killer, who offers Dorma a nasty bargain. Making the situation worse is the fact that Dormer can't sleep, his body clock thrown off by the 24-hour thin sunlight of the town of Nightmute, which affords Pacino a chance to crawl deeply inside a flawed hero on the point of cracking up. There's one terrific chase scene, with two clumsy middle-aged guys, leading to an intense and memorable peril. It slightly over-eggs the original story, with a Hollywooden tinge, but it's still compelling, grown-up drama. --Kim Newman
On the DVD: Insomnia offers a wealth of DVD special features, most of which can be found inside the "Production Diaries", including a splendid making-of featurette filled with great cinematography and a haunting soundtrack. There is also an interesting documentary short on insomnia the condition, relating the problems sleep deprivation can cause. The commentaries take a new angle by asking relevant cast and crew members to comment on a scene specific to them rather than listening to the whole film with a commentary, which is refreshing and a concise way of providing the information. --Nikki Disney
Insomnia (Widescreen Edition)