Insomnia is an American psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan, other-wise known for his work in directing Memento, Inception, and The Dark Knight trilogy. It stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank and is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.
Released to high critical reviews, the film was also a strong box-office success making well-over twice its budget.
I think that it is needless to say why I wanted to watch this film. I enjoyed all of Nolan’s other works and with the proven acting capabilities of Robin Williams and Al Pacino, this one seemed like a no-brainer.
When the 17-year-old Kay Connell is found murdered. LAPD detectives Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart are sent to assist in the investigation. However, during a pursuit of the killer, Will inadvertently shoots Hap in the chest, killing him. Dormer doesn’t confess, which the killer uses as a way to blackmail him. Basically, the film takes a new direction on the standard catch-a-killer stories with an emphasis on the conscience and all of the things that it can derail.
If there is one thing about this film that I have to acknowledge firsthand, it is the acting provided from Al Pacino. Robin Williams and Hillary Swank do fine in their roles, but this is definitely Pacino’s film. Through his by-now legendary acting chops, he is able to convey various different emotions and keep things interesting along the way. His character is unique because while it steers way from some of the more cliched driven and motivated cop-characters, it maintains one of the most vibrant aspects about them. He doesn’t feel like he is good or bad, he feels like a normal person that is reacting to some of the situations put in-front of him.
The film definitely maintains a lot of the cinematic and stylistic elements that we have been known to expect from Christopher Nolan. The little elements of scenery and small attention to details might be unnoticed for a lot but they are still a testament to Nolan’s directing. The film feels cleanly shot and paced in such a way that keeps it from ever really lagging or letting the two hour run-time feel worth acknowledging. A lot of that has to do with the characters themselves. There are a lot of crime-thriller novels, and there are also a lot of crime-thriller films as a result. This film generally doesn’t fall it the same category as some of the bad ones.
The premise of this film isn’t anything that is worth jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch about, but it’s enough to keep me invested a viewer. We have retreaded this genre so many times that it might start to feel more and more tedious. In a lot of ways, this one doesn’t offer too much that we haven’t seen from a storyline perspective. Perhaps a little more ambition, but it remains true that without the characters being so capable and entertaining, without the pacing, and without the structuring, it could have easily failed instead of succeeded.
In conclusion, we have seen a lot of psychological dramas that it all of them might start seeming like a retread. However, through the driven performance from Al Pacino, as well as a strong-supporting cast, and the directing from Christopher Nolan. Insomnia feels less like a retread and more like a reminder of why the genre was ever tread in the first place.