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Overall Rating

Awesome: 37.5%
Worth A Look44.17%
Average: 11.67%
Pretty Bad: 4.17%
Total Crap: 2.5%

6 reviews, 84 user ratings

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Insomnia (2002)
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by EricDSnider

"A stark, vivid, tension-filled movie."
4 stars

The source of insomnia for a cop is one of two things: A missing piece in the case he's working, or a guilty conscience.

So says Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank), a rookie cop in the remote fishing village of Nightmute, Alaska. But she's quoting the very man she's talking to, her idol, Will Dormer (Al Pacino), a legendary Los Angeles police detective who in "Insomnia" has come to Alaska to help solve a murder. Now Dormer -- whose name is one letter away from "dormir," Spanish for "sleep" -- cannot sleep, and the question is why.

Oh, the superficial reason makes enough sense: It never gets dark here this time of year. Many people suffer insomnia when they first arrive. But the good cop/bad cop reasons are factors, too. A day after arriving, Dormer accidentally shot and killed his partner (Martin Donovan), who was on the verge of cutting a deal with Internal Affairs to help them prosecute Dormer for previous misdeeds. It was an accident ... but a very convenient one, as far as Dormer's career is concerned.

And pieces of the puzzle are missing. Part of the beauty of this dark, desolate film by Christopher Nolan (who also directed "Memento") is that the murder mystery is no mystery at all. We learn the identity of the killer fairly early: Walter Finch (Robin Williams). Finch, however, also witnessed Dormer shooting his partner. Subsequently, when Dormer reports that it was the killer who did it, not him, no one has any problem believing that. Since Finch knows the truth, he can blackmail Dormer. And since Dormer wants to avoid being identified as the real shooter -- no matter how innocent it was, it's not going to look good -- he may have to go along with Finch's demands.

An ethically ambiguous protagonist was at the center of Nolan's "Memento," too, though fans of that film should not expect a repeat in "Insomnia." The new film explores different issues and has a more straightforward structure. Nolan has been wise not to pigeonhole himself -- except as a reliable, gritty director, which is a fine thing to be known as. "Insomnia" has shades of "Twin Peaks" and "Seven," and it builds tension with great skill.

Pacino and Williams give steely, strong performances -- not the highlight of either career, but worthy additions to their resumes. Pacino has played weary cops before, and morally questionable people before, and Williams' list of seedy characters is growing fast, much to the delight of those of us who were tired of his cloying save-the-world roles.

"Insomnia" does not end in a very satisfying manner. It answers all the questions, but it doesn't lead to anything particularly powerful. That may be a small price to pay, though, for a film that is otherwise so gripping and forceful.

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originally posted: 05/25/02 07:13:59
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good script good acting good film IMHO 4 stars
8/30/11 Monday Morning Good story but slow to unfold. Could have cut, like 30 minutes from it. 4 stars
12/07/10 Kyle Amazing film, Nolan's best film except Memento. Far better than The Dark Knight/Inception. 5 stars
10/19/09 sachin Al Pacino's Finest Performance Till Date(2009) 5 stars
11/26/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 5 stars
7/22/08 the dork knight Probably one of the last good movies you'll ever see from Pacino 5 stars
1/19/08 Pamela White great plot and realistic sleep deprivation subplot 5 stars
8/21/07 Bhavesh Good movie 4 stars
7/26/07 Quigley See it just for Al Pacino alone. Nolan's direction is top-notch. It still didn't grab me. 3 stars
4/21/07 Ronin Awesome acting. Script not so great. 4 stars
2/23/07 Weblynx thriller, great acting, i loved it 5 stars
2/08/07 Raph Branca This film came out of left field. Surprisingly great piece of work. 5 stars
7/13/06 free bonus sign up no fine print or wagering sport betting selection free bonus sign up no fine print or wagering 5 stars
4/12/06 anthonyuk superb acting, fantastic 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Robin Williams steals the whole fucking movie. 4 stars
8/22/05 R.W. Welch Engrossing cop flick tho ending is not quite convincing. Top drawer acting. 4 stars
5/28/05 Gary Surprisingly good-- Great performance by Pacino. Great directors commentary 5 stars
5/28/05 Indrid Cold A little disappointing, but still a meaty, entertaining thriller. 4 stars
9/26/04 NJ Cup Winner 95-00-03 Three Oscar winners make for one entertaining movie that stayed w/me 4 stars
5/28/04 Me Good acting, but it was kind of boring... 4 stars
5/21/04 tatum Good suspenser, film's misleading trailer nothing like the film 4 stars
4/27/04 4x4 Hilary awesome. Pacino OK. Willams spastic. Not bad. 4 stars
1/22/04 fhfj Taut storyline, acting, and direction, though somewhat predictable. 4 stars
12/10/03 Samuel A very good movie Pacino and Williams work well together!! 3 stars
11/14/03 Edith the Maid and Meredith the Mermaid Pacino's worst movie other'n DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, not counting awful cameo in GIGLI. 2 stars
9/14/03 KING EDWARD good stuff - makes me want to strangle a goat, while screaming 'god bless america' 4 stars
5/30/03 abhijeet bhadra It"s informative , should include pictures. 3 stars
5/14/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) Good acting, directing, and kind of a nice story. Not bad. 4 stars
3/10/03 Matt Thiel Nolan's mediocre followup to Memento. Sigh. 2 stars
1/29/03 fraz visually appealing, complex plot and characters, believable acting 4 stars
1/03/03 . Robin Williams was suprisingly good as the psycho! 4 stars
12/03/02 George Jung A shining light in the shit that was the movies of 2002. 5 stars
11/21/02 Phil M. Aficionado Well done except for a few contrivances; An A-/B+ kind of effort. See it. 4 stars
11/11/02 Henk Binnendijk A moody movie exploring the value of police ethics. 5 stars
11/10/02 Daniel Good cast wasted! This yarn is way too predictable. 3 stars
11/06/02 Punk_Ass No real twists or turns. Ending sucked. ok if you need to kill some time 3 stars
10/27/02 Elizaveta Pretty good...Robin Williams should've suffered more 4 stars
10/26/02 Monster W. Kung Awesome. One of the best crime/thrillers I've seen in a long time. 5 stars
10/22/02 Ken The main character died, so it must be good! Boring, boring, boring. 2 stars
10/18/02 Reini Urban not a masterpiece, too olished, but quite okay 4 stars
10/16/02 TwIsTeD Patch Adams Beats Ass 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Very average. Too many inconsistencies. 2 stars
9/25/02 James Renwick Ultimately doesn't work - Dialogue - Dialogue - Dialogue 4 stars
9/11/02 Francofile I'm so sick of Hollywood forcemeat. Is the (excellent) 1997 original too "foreign"!? 3 stars
9/07/02 trumplesneaker fab film in a fab location. it had holes but i can live with them. i like KMG's comment! 4 stars
9/06/02 Matthew Smith an outstanding thriller, taut and terrific edge of seat stuff from start to finish 5 stars
8/19/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) Christopher Nolan is a really good director, and the cast is great. 4 stars
8/13/02 blakers great 5 stars
8/07/02 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Fancies itself cool for being non-formulaic. But sometimes that's just not so hot! 2 stars
7/02/02 KMG It was boring. Pacino should've just covered the windows! 3 stars
6/30/02 Holland Weeks Effective acting; double plot tension; plausible character complexity 5 stars
6/28/02 Bada Bing Crosby All three stars deliver the goods & director is quantum..funny joke by Katt, too! 5 stars
6/22/02 cleansparks very good movie, pacino is excellent 5 stars
6/20/02 Issec Wang It was good but not amazing. I liked it a lot. Impressive. 4 stars
6/16/02 JO Beyond words...I didn't think anything Al Pacino was in could suck as much as this... 1 stars
6/15/02 Cher Pretty bad acting, decent plot doesn't make up for it 1 stars
6/12/02 Obi Wan Very well done!! I did expect more in the thriller dept though!! 4 stars
6/11/02 spaceworm GODFATHERs apart, Pacino's best work. 4 stars
6/10/02 Coitus For a murder suspense movie, it had a "different angle." Could rent it, and not miss much. 3 stars
6/10/02 BrodieMan Suspenseful and well done. Pacino is awesome ! 4 stars
6/08/02 malcolm how did cute-ass Hillary Swank look so boyish in Boys Don't Cry 5 stars
6/07/02 Brendan Pacino and Williams are fabulous, this film is what a psychological thriller should be 5 stars
6/03/02 Poumpus and better than you I was dissapointed, though the acting and directing were fabulous the movie was dull. 3 stars
6/02/02 Suzz great director, actors, cinematograpy; plot so-so with no surprises 3 stars
6/02/02 Teresa Goes beyond who killed who and why, to who can get away with what! Go See!! 4 stars
6/01/02 Mary Lou Exceptional. For me, Pacino can do no wrong anyway, but this may his best work ever. 5 stars
6/01/02 monica I LOVED THIS MOVIE 5 stars
5/31/02 Janine Lay very boring and no thrills, depressing 3 stars
5/31/02 MyztiQ excellent thriller 5 stars
5/31/02 John Kosanovich Good acting, just telling a story, nothing to experience. 3 stars
5/30/02 davey mac way better than anything else in the theatres lately.... 4 stars
5/30/02 Dr Laura Is A Bitch (Doo dah, doo dah...) Engaging, brilliantly acted, had plot holes. 4 stars
5/29/02 Blackops good acting, good movie. I wonder if some of you go to the movie before you make a comment? 4 stars
5/29/02 ajay loved it. 5 stars
5/28/02 Greyjack Very good film. Pacino in top form (and not over-the-top form). Pleasure to watch. 4 stars
5/28/02 P-Nut Robin Williams should stick to comedy. Pacino proves why he is so overrated. 1 stars
5/27/02 Film Guy Great movie. Williams & Pacino were great. Vindar U moron 4 stars
5/26/02 Nick2k different nolan pace. good though. always interesting. 4 stars
5/26/02 billyoby not memento - very average 3 stars
5/26/02 Blubberbot It was ok. Not good. Not bad. 3 stars
5/26/02 rue the whirl superior to the original in my opinion. 5 stars
5/25/02 frank an excellent psychological thriller 4 stars
5/24/02 The Bomb 69 the original was better, though Williams was a much better bad guy than the original 5 stars
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  24-May-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Christopher Nolan

Written by
  Hillary Seitz

  Al Pacino
  Hilary Swank
  Robin Williams
  Maura Tierney
  Martin Donovan
  Nicky Katt

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