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Insomnia

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A tough cop. A brilliant cop. An unspeakable crime.

Sent from the city to investigate the murder of a teenage girl in a small Alaskan town north of the Arctic circle, police detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) accidentally shoots his own partner while trying to apprehend a suspect.

Instead of admitting his guilt, the detective is given an unexpected alibi but this "solution" only multiplies the emotional complexity and guilt over his partner's death. He's also still got a murder mystery to solve, in addition to the blackmail and framing (of an innocent bystander) being orchestrated by the man they were chasing. There's also local detective Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) who is conducting her own personal investigation... of his partner's death. Will it all come crashing down on him?

Remake of the 1997 Norwegian original.

Persons of interest

  • Al Pacino .... Detective Will Dormer
  • Hilary Swank .... Detective Ellie Burr
  • Robin Williams .... Walter Byrd
  • Maura Tierney .... Rachel
  • Jonathan Jackson .... Randy Stetz
  • Martin Donovan .... Hap Eckhart
  • Larry Holden .... Farrell
  • Nikolaj Frobenius .... Creator
  • Erik Skjoldbjærg .... Creator
  • Hillary Seitz .... Screenwriter
  • Christopher Nolan .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Sleepless in Alaska.

Just kidding. Apart from being short on the Total Allotted Wink Allowance (can you tell that I'm working on my tax return?), Alaska is as far from Seattle as you can get and still be in Hollywood. Insomnia is the filmic record of one man falling to pieces and taking everyone else down with him.

Al Pacino can turn in some marvellously nuanced performances but for some reason the ironically named Will Dormer ["dormer" comes from "dormitory", meaning "a place to sleep" - Director of Intelligence] just doesn't make the grade. Will's inability to stack a few Zs doesn't ring true. Sure, he has more than enough reason to be insomniac (guilt and geography) and sure, his appearance suggests the problem, but something about it made me feel that I was seeing an act rather than a performance. If you want to see lack of sleep, watch the Star trek: Deep Space Nine episodes from the end of Season 6: Major Kira is the walking dead, you want to make the war stop just so she can get some sleep. Will evoked none of that in me.

Meanwhile, Hilary Swank is spot on as the over-educated and under-experienced Detective Burr. Ellie has an ingenious quality that belies the strength of character underneath. Ellie is under-estimated by everyone except herself and suffers because of it, but she is also the epitome of a police detective. For Will, she is the ghost of Christmas past, everything he started out as, everything he wishes he could be; she is the Burr under his saddle, gadding him on toward honesty.

Robin Williams plays the bad guy. Quite why Walter Byrd has flown to this particular coop is never revealed but it makes perfect sense. When you are a big fish in a small pond everyone expects you to have secrets and to know that everyone knows you have secrets; the best place to hide something is in plain view. Robin, and these name games are starting to get a bit much even for me, even though they do have a purpose, brings his genial self to the role but also allows a creepy underside to enter his performance. Not many lead actors are secure enough to play such nasty people, mostly because they fear it will harm their Box office pull, but Robin has no such qualms: it bodes well for One hour photo.

Back to the point, Insomnia is more of a detective flick than it is a crime film or a dramatic movie, with dark undertones of seamy city living. Good enough for a night out at themovies but better for a night in with a video.

[NB: Special Agent Matti often experiences insomnia because of his medication - Director of Intelligence]

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen (2.35:1)
  • Special features: None
  • Subtitles: Closed captions, Danish, English, English captions, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence, medium level coarse language, adult themes)

Surveillance time

118 minutes (1:58 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 5 September 2002
DVD retail: 17 September 2003
VHS retail: 17 September 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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