BLU-RAY REVIEW: Christopher Nolan’s “Insomnia”
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We’re days away from Christopher Nolan’s anticipated “Inception,” which is a dizzying mind-puzzle of a thriller that … well, I can’t get into it here for fear of shattering studio embargoes. Look for a full review this Friday.
In the meantime, Warner has placed a Blu-ray copy of Nolan’s “Insomnia,” which he filmed after the calculated murder-mystery “Memento,” into our hands for inspection. I haven’t watched “Insomnia” since its release in 2002. A remake of a 1997 Norwegian thriller, it casts a haggard Al Pacino as a celebrated L.A. detective tracking a killer (Robin Williams) through a daylight-drenched Alaskan community. (The fact that Internal Affairs is hounding him back in California does little to help his already fragile psyche.)
I remember “Insomnia” to be better than it actually is. While still a solid thriller, a second viewing shows plot holes and cut corners that Nolan employs to maintain mood. You can see his visual style starting to formulate, especially thanks to the contributions of cinematographer Wall Pfister. Shots of Alaska’s glacial terrain are breathtaking on Blu-ray, while a crucial foot chase through a foggy forest is suitably disorienting. And while Williams is note-perfect as a killer who believes he’s in the same boat as the detective hunting him, Pacino falls back on the clichéd “Pacino” performance that has been lampooned too often in recent years.
And yet, I thoroughly enjoyed the candid, one-on-one conversation Pacino has with Nolan for the “Insomnia” Blu-ray. Filmed a few months after the film was shot, it gives unprecedented insight into both Nolan’s creative mindset and Pacino’s process. I also had to chuckle when Pacino casually mentions a day when he shot a scene with “Francis,” knowing full well that a mention of “The Godfather” would send a film geek like Nolan to the heavens. Good stuff.
The Blu-ray also packs scene-specific commentary tracks from Nolan’s contributors, additional scenes, three “Making of” featurettes, a stills gallery and a trailer. It’s definitely worth adding to your collection, especially if you are a Nolan junkie. And check out “Inception” later this week.
The movie – *** out of 4
The Blu-ray – *** out of 4