Insomnia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Insomnia Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 31, 2011
Good thriller that keeps you guessing from the start. I still can't get over Robin Williams as a bad guy; the fact that he took on a villainous role as opposed to a comedy role made the movie that much better.
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2013
Can't remember if I saw this in the movies when it first came out or if I watched it at home and forgot to write it up. But after watching a second time hard to imagine it was produced 10 years ago. Al Pacino plays awesome part as he always does as a cop. He's in Alaska working on a case when he kills his partner. The case is a teen age girl was murdered and Robin Williams is the killer he's tracking down as the movie mazes about, excellent twist here and there. Williams always seems to play a excellent Psycho. 4 stars for this one 2-27-13
Super Reviewer
½ August 29, 2012
A mix of Silence of the Lambs and Memento, Insomnia is a bleak yet excellent thriller with great performances from Pacino and Williams. The formation and unraveling of the lies that Pacino's character crafts are fascinating to watch. Nolan once more shines as a director, and the cinematography and film editing are effective and top notch.
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2010
Not Nolan's best, but still a really good crime thriller. Really good cast and great locations.
Super Reviewer
April 12, 2011
i've seen a billion movies about the haunted detective chasing the mysterious killer who you either think did it and later find out didn't or find out that the movie made you think he didn't by using the "its too obvious, so he didn't" clues and then we find out he fucking did do it and the movie fucked us because if he really did it, why do you have to make us feel stupid for finding out it was him at the beginning because we totally could have used our time better, like thinking about why he did it instead of why we're supposed to think he didn't or did do it when we don't fucking care anyway, we're trying to escape our depressing lives.
Super Reviewer
½ February 5, 2011
Expected more from you, Nolan. His least magnificent film lacks the memorable punch that he adds to his other films.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2011
Insomnia is not Christopher Nolans best, but its still a near masterpiece nonetheless. The plot of the film knows what it is, not a movie hard to understand, but a intense crime thriller that gives a small twist on regular crime movies and is amazing. Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank in my opinion all play their roles in perfection. The feel of the film was also beautiful. If I had any problem it was it felt unconclusive at the end, I didn't understand what happened next. A movie that shows you that its amazing and that Christopher Nolans skills range far and wide, and I loved Insomnia.
Super Reviewer
August 5, 2011
Christopher Nolan's second effort is a solid Thriller starring an excellent cast. Insomnia is a terrific film that is very well made. Nolan keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the film and manages to keep the thrills coming. The talent involved here delivers some strong performances. The actors that are most notable being Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank. There's enough going on screen to keep you on the edge of your seat to the very end. Insomnia is a solid, well crafted Thriller that shouldn't be overlooked. Maybe because of Nolan's recent works such as Inception and The Dark Knight has this film been slightly overshadowed. This is a solid second film from Christopher Nolan who's definitely made a big name for himself since. Insomnia boasts a good performance by Robin Williams, which equals the one in One Hour Photo. Insomnia is a solid, pulse pounding Thriller, and it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very end. I think the cast make this film better than it actually is, and each one delivers something terrific to the screen. Insomnia is a phenomenal second feature from Christopher Nolan, and glimpses of his ever growing creativity are apparent on screen. The result is an accomplished Thriller that is superbly acted and directed.
Super Reviewer
½ February 3, 2011
"A good cop can't sleep because he's missing a piece of the puzzle. And a bad cop can't sleep because his conscience won't let him."

First off, I haven't seen the original. So I can't compare the two, but this Insomnia is one hell of a movie. Insomnia is directed by the best director going right now and my favorite director Christopher Nolan. He has made great movie after great movie. Insomnia was his follow up to what most believe to be his masterpiece, Memento. His direction here is as solid as it has been with every other great movie he has done. The cinematography is beautiful and the casting is brilliant. He can always choose a great cast. I mean the guy picked Heath Ledger to play The Joker. The choice of casting Robin Williams as Walter Finch was great. Most don't see Williams in that type of role, but Nolan did and Williams did not disappoint. It is my favorite role of Robin Williams career. Al Pachino gives a masterful performance as Will Dormer; a very thought of LA cop who comes to Alaska and ultimately ends up in a mess. By the end of this movie Pachino had me feeling tired. He played his character amazingly well. Hilary Swank is great in a pre- Million Dollar Baby performance. This movie definitely deserves a lot more praise. It is an exceptional film.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2009
A solid, atmospheric suspense-thriller featuring Al Pacino near the top of his game as a sleep-deprived detective living with the blood of his partner on his hands, all while trying to track down the main suspect (Robin Williams) of the case he is working on - who saw him accidentally pull the trigger on his wingman. While there are certain stretches where this movie slows down a bit to much, the overall product is still largely entertaining thanks to the way director Christopher Nolan pieces everything together with such skill. Pacino's tortured performance is the driving force behind this movie, and it is also nice to see Robin Williams present his dark side here. The acting really makes this movie watchable, not making it just an extended version of a "Law and Order" episode, but a film whose haunting conclusion especially makes it stand well in the genre of crime thrillers.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2011
A physiological drama between the detective and murderer. Great performances by Pacino, Williams, and Swank. Story is both intelligent and thrilling as it sinks into questions of morals and what actions someone can and cannot live with.
Super Reviewer
April 9, 2011
A very involving crime film with an interesting psychological twist, Insomnia is propelled by great performances from the likes of Al Pacino and Robin Williams, as well as disorienting and creepy direction from Christopher Nolan - who once again manages to not only surprise us, but allows us to delve deep into the minds of the characters and appreciate how screwed up they really are.
Super Reviewer
½ May 15, 2007
A Los Angeles detective under investigation by internal affairs flies to Alaska to assist in the investigation of the murder of a 17 year old girl. I'd been avoiding this one despite the highly promising combination of Pacino and Nolan, mainly because of the highly unpromising presence of Robin Williams. This kind of gimmicky casting can occasionally pay dividends, but usually backfires disastrously. Here, thankfully, Williams acquits himself adequately and fails to wreck the film. It unsurprisingly belongs lock, stock and barrel to Pacino who is as strong as always, giving a very human portrayal of a good cop with frailties forced into an unwanted and unwilling alliance with the murder suspect he is pursuing. For me, more could've been made of the psychological and hallucinatory effects of sleep deprivation and it lacks any of the plot twists we've come to expect these days. It is, however, a solidly written and well crafted thriller with all the visual flourishes we've come to expect from Christopher Nolan that deserves a chance despite its origins as a dreaded "Hollywood remake".
paul o.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2011
Set in always sunny Alaska, Al Pacino plays detective with Robin Williams playing semi-villain. Not my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. The plot was good but not well executed, the acting was alright, and the general layout didn't make me feel comfortable when watching it.
Super Reviewer
½ October 11, 2010
Extremely tense, solid movie-making. Don't think it would have been a feather in Nolan's cap without Pacino, but definitely worth watching if you're a fan of the genre.
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2010
Good psychological thriller... but doesn't get any deeper than that. Like always, Christopher Nolan's direction is always good. Al Pacino carries this movie.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2010
?Conventional? is not a word we have come to associate with Christopher Nolan. It seems almost insulting to use the term around someone whose unique blend of blockbuster action and head-scrambling substance has made him one of the most exciting directors working today. This is especially true in an age where blockbusters are increasingly formulaic in both script and execution.

But whatever his subsequent triumphs, there?s no getting away from the fact that Insomnia is Nolan?s most ?conventional? film, insofar as it conforms to many of the archetypes and plot strands we have come to associate with the crime thriller. Those who viewed Memento repeatedly to marvel at its precocious originality may leave Insomnia feeling underwhelmed. But don?t despair: there is enough of Nolan?s magic in Insomnia to keep the experience fulfilling.

Look at it this way. If Memento was the left-field bolt from the blue which made the executives sit up and take notice, then Insomnia is the trial run to see whether Nolan could be trusted with bigger budgets. Giving him a foreign language film to remake is a very interesting choice, since American remakes of foreign films generally make more money than the originals while being inferior in quality. If Nolan could make a much-admired Norwegian film into an equally-admired American one, it would open up more possibilities (not least of which, the chance to do a Batman movie).

By relocating the story from Norway to Alaska, Insomnia has to take on certain characteristics of the classic American crime thrillers of recent years. Setting the story in a small fishing village in which very little happens hints back in some small way to Fargo: there is the same idea that ?a lot can happen in the middle of nowhere?, albeit without the quirky wit of the Coens. There are also a whole series of cop films which focus on policeman feeling out of their depth ? from John McClane in Die Hard to Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks, we?ve seen that story a hundred times before.

Because these conventions are hardwired into the script, there is a limit on how much invention and inversion Nolan can attempt on screen. The opening forty minutes, up until the shooting in the woods, are impressively shot but feel very generic, with the characters delivering lines you could almost repeat in your sleep. But from thereon in, Nolan?s creative decisions begin to pay off, starting with his decision to use old-fashioned visual effects. The log cabin sets look like they have stood there for decades, and the use of real fog makes the experience more involving. Compare the chase scene in the woods to the chase scene in The Fog remake, and it?s not hard to see which approach works and which doesn?t.

Both the original and the remake invert one of the key conventions of film noir, namely the visual emphasis on darkness and shadow to create suspense, threat or a safe hiding place for the characters. Here, in a place where the sun shines twenty-three hours a day, there is nowhere to hide, either from people or from the secrets one carries. The film is as much about the crime as it is about how individuals start to come apart at the seams when their normal patterns (like sleep) are disrupted.

When the film begins, Will Dormer is a composed, confident detective. When he interviews Randy Stetz, he quickly curtails the young lad?s impudent remarks through quiet, considered statements. From an audience point of view, it is refreshing to see an Al Pacino performance in which he is not shouting his way through every line of the script. But as the days and nights roll on, he gradually becomes more desperate and irrational, until he no longer cares about the case. His dying words, ?let me sleep?, are not just a fitting one-liner: they reflect a deep desire to forget his past, and all the dark secrets which have bubbled to the surface in these extreme circumstances.

The film to which Insomnia owes the greatest debt, in the best possible way, is The Silence of the Lambs. At the centre of both stories is the ambiguous relationship between ?good? and ?evil?, in which neither is pure or easily defined. Both Will Dormer and Walter Finch (a good performance by Robin Williams) are individuals who have good intentions, both towards the murdered girl and their respective jobs. But they are also both capable of evil feats which may or may not be intentional; when asked if he intended to kill his partner, Dormer replies that he isn?t sure anymore.

The scene where Dormer and Finch meet on the ferry is an interesting restaging of the first meeting between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lector. The relationship between these characters is much more complex than that of a cop chasing a murderer. Dormer is torn between a desire to kill Finch for what he did and the need to cover his tracks after his ?accident? in the woods. It is stretching a point to say that these characters become platonically involved, and Finch is nothing like as psychotic as Lector. But there is a definite echo of such a relationship in these characters, which becomes more marked as the different twists play out.

For the other characters in the film, it is a case of coming to terms with reality rather than with themselves. Conscience still plays a role, but in the case of Hillary Swank?s young rookie Ellie Burr, it is more to do with adjusting her idealised view of Dormer. Starting out as a Nancy Drew goody-two-shoes, she comes to distrust Dormer?s versions of events ? her dilemma is not a moral one, but one of reputations. In the final scene she is about to throw away the bullet which would incriminate Dormer and prove he was lying about his partner ? she doesn?t care about the truth, only about preserving her admiration for him. Dormer rightly stops her, affirming his goodness but at the cost of destroying her idol.

Like most Christopher Nolan films, there is plenty of action-packed spectacle to balance out the soul-searching and entertain those who aren?t interested quite so much in character development. The chase scenes through the woods and over the logjam are energetically shot with a good score from David Julyan, and the camerawork is very solid. The final showdown between Dormer and Finch does feel like a half-baked Mexican standoff, but the ending scene with Dormer and Burr just about makes up for it.

Insomnia is an interesting and successful remake which plays with Hollywood conventions and makes an admirable result out of slightly worn ingredients. Had the result not been quite so satisfying, Batman Begins would probably not have happened. In the long run, this film may become seen as a lesser work, in the line of Alfred Hitchcock?s Murder! or Stanley Kubrick?s The Killing ? something which pushed the envelope just a little, to get the money for another film which could push it further. If nothing else, it is proof that Hollywood remakes of foreign films need not be dumb and derivative. One hopes that David Fincher will bear this in mind when he remakes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2006
A decent thriller with a strong cast set in an unusual location. A cop trying to solve a murder in a small Alaskan town, where it's never dark, weaves a tangled web of deceit to cover up some problems of his own. It's a little slow at times but overall a good film with a different plot to most.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2006
An intelligent Thriller with yet another great performance from Pacino. All the elements included in the plot, ie location, sleep deprivation etc etc build nicely toward it's sub-story, rather than the main focus of the tale.
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2009
A solid, if unspectacular police thriller with a strong cast guiding it through the less engaging moments. It's really slow for the first hour and doesn't pick up until Robin Williams character appears on screen, but after that it turns into something more interesting and entertaining. The insomnia aspect of the film feels kind of tacked onto the generic police thriller. It's not fully fleshed out and just seems like a stumbling block for Al Pacino's character. This is definitely my least favorite Christopher Nolan film that I've seen, but he still has yet to make a movie I haven't still liked. Insomnia is a generic police thriller, but one that comes with good enough acting and direction to overcome it and become something worth watching.
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