5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Al Pacino excels but Christopher Nolan stumbles,
This review is from: Insomnia [DVD]  (DVD)
Christopher Nolan's 2002 remake of Insomina is sadly his weakest film in an otherwise impressive filmography. The main problem is the relentless softening and sentimentalising of the material: Pacino's cop is much more sociable and wise rather than the Skaarsgard's morally empty cold fish, and is consequently much less interesting. Nolan keeps Pacino's shouty moments to a minimum and he does a much more impressive job of the sleep deprivation, but the audience-friendly characterization results in a clich?d stereotype on a predictable journey to inevitable redemption.
Sadly, the dilution doesn't end with Pacino but runs throughout the film. In this version - for those familiar with the original - the dog is already dead to avoid anything that might alienate us from the hero, the women are mostly father confessor figures, the hotel receptionist IS polite to the shot man, there's no kitten scene, Hilary Swank is saddled with a horrible "I know you're a good cop even if you don't" scene that lacks the cold condemnation and loss of trust of the original's finale and, most damagingly, it's strongly implied that the girl's murder was not accidental, which draws a line between cop and killer. A couple of key scenes are badly directed, most notably the shooting in the fog that highlights Nolan's problems with action scenes (although there is one good chase over logs in the river).
There are, however, strong points, mostly once Robin Williams enters the scene. The film does briefly address the complicity between cop and killer and takes interesting detours from the original, but it's still a film that works for a couple of reels at a time then goes off the boil for another couple of reels before staging another recovery.