Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Movie Review: "Insomnia" (2002)

Image Source
Director: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2002
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

L.A. Homicide detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart head to Alaska to help the local police department investigate the murder of a 17-year-old girl. A looming Internal Affairs investigation and the fact that the sun never goes down has made it hard for Will to sleep, hurting his ability to think clearly and do his job properly.

Long before Christopher Nolan resurrected Batman and way before his legion of fans (known as Nolanites) declared him a cinema god that can do no wrong, he made "Insomnia," a crime thriller remake of a Norwegian film of the same name. Al Pacino stars as Will Dormer, a Los Angeles homicide investigator who has been reluctantly sent to Alaska in order to help with a murder investigation of a 17-year-old girl, who was been beaten to death by an unknown assailant. This is not the only reason he and his partner, Hap Eckhart, played by Martin Donovan, have been sent to Alaska. The two of them are also the subjects of an Internal Affairs investigation, and their commanding officer wanted them out of the city for a while.

Despite taking place in Alaska, where the sun stays up long hours for months on end, "Insomnia" is a very dark film, not dark in picture quality, but dark in tone. It blurs the lines of morality and humanity as is asks the age old question, "do the ends justify the means?" It's bloody, but not in a gore-fest, shootout kind of way. It's stylistically thrilling as Nolan's cinematography aids in bringing about loads of taut tension, quiet intensity, and twists and turns. Nolan really is a masterful director and magnificent storyteller.

Can the acting be just as effective in telling this story so it doesn't feel like a drama mystery rehash? The answer is a resounding yes. Al Pacino puts on a stellar performance as Dormer, a man who finds himself struggling with the change of environment as the constant daylight keeps him awake. Pacino is able to convey the stresses of a once-celebrated police officer who is now the subject of intense scrutiny and investigation by Internal Affairs. Awake for days on end, the audience begins to signs of mental fatigue, physical exhaust, and emotional strain, and you couldn't ask for a better actor to display these traits than Al Pacino. Hilary Swank also stars as local Alaska police Detective  Ellie Burr, who is a wide-eyed admirer of Dormer's. She performs her part well, offering both admiration and determination in her role, even though she feels like a third, unnecessary wheel until all is ultimately revealed. Finally, Robin Williams gives a brilliant performance, but we won't go into much detail because you should experience it for yourself. Gone are his jokey, over the top performances in favor of a much more grim, gritty, sinister role. It is one of his best, most convincing performances.

"Insomnia" is not as spectacular as the Nolan film that came before it, "Memento," but it's definitely still a very good, very engrossing, very anxiety-ridden film with stark, beautiful imagery and a hell of a cast.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

No comments:

Post a Comment