Before The Dark Knight, Interstellar, The Prestige and Inception, Christopher Nolan was near the beginning of his directorial journey. Hot off the back of the critically acclaimed Memento, he was called in to remake the 1997 Norwegian thriller of the same name, Insomnia. A bigger budget and bigger stars in Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank – Insomnia is a film full of potential that does not disappoint.
Set in Alaska, two LA cops out of their natural home comforts are called up to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. With secrets to hide, and a number 1 suspect in the form of an eerie Robin Williams, this is crime thriller filled with mystery that plagues Pacino day and night. As the title suggests, Pacino’s character Detective Will Dormer is unable to sleep, suffering from acute insomnia that progressively drives him to the edge. Meanwhile a rational younger cop, Detective Ellie Burr played by Swank, begins to realise that perhaps Dormer isn’t quite the legend she has been lead to believe.
It’s a convoluted thriller that actually thrills, where the facts are made so explicitly obvious, yet somehow it manages to maintain an air of mystique. Owed largely to the intense performances from the cast, it hits hardest when combined with the bleak loneliness that the Alaskan landscape has to offer. There is a real depth to the characters; the constant internal struggle of right and wrong is strewn across all of their faces.
It might not be as good as the original, but it was a solid entry into the catalogue of films Nolan now has to his name. It shows all the early signs of his talent, but unfortunately with the huge films he has released since there is a case to say that this film is criminally overlooked.