Insomnia (2002): A Movie That’s Better The Second Time Watching It

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you have read my blog at all last week, it’s possible that you may have come across my review for “Interstellar.” If you never heard of the film before or don’t know when it came out, that’s not a new release, that’s actually from 2014. I reviewed it because the guy who directed that movie, Christopher Nolan, has a new film coming out on July 21st. It’s gonna be in theaters everywhere including special presentations in various film formats. Today, we’re gonna review yet another one of his movies. But before we get into that, I want to say if you actually want to read my review for “Interstellar,” click the link down below and that will take you to the review.

Today we’re gonna be talking about one of Christopher Nolan’s earliest films, “Insomnia.” This film came out in 2002 and considered by many to be one of Christopher Nolan’s worst movies. Although based on ratings I’ve gathered for this movie, that doesn’t mean much of anything because it’s still got a good rating of 7.2 on IMDb with most of the individual ratings coming in around the 7/10 range, which can suggest that the movie’s watchable. Without further ado, let’s start the review!



“Insomnia” is as mentioned recently, is directed by Christopher Nolan, and stars Al Pacino (Scarface, The Godfather), Robin Williams (Jumanji, Aladdin), and Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, The Gift). This film is a thriller and is about homicide detectives who are investigating the murder of a local teenager.

A couple things before we dive into this film, I have watched this movie once before, I thought it was alright but it definitely could have been better. But then I kinda remember doing two things at once (maybe, I don’t know). Although I thought I’d give it another shot because it is a Christopher Nolan movie and that is what I intend on reviewing for the next few weeks before “Dunkirk” hits theaters. Also, in case you didn’t know, this is actually a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film which has the same name as this one. I can’t really compare this movie to that one because I haven’t seen the other interpretation, but IMDb says it has an overall slightly higher score compared to the 2002 movie of 7.3/10 with most ratings coming in the 7/10 range, although it also suggests less people, at least those who use IMDb, saw the 1997 film and more saw the 2002 film. Now let’s dive into some characters, starting with Al Pacino.

In Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of “Insomnia,” I took a glance at the cast for this movie, and noticed the characters overall have different names, and I can understand that. This is based on a Norwegian film and this is kind of being directed to other audiences. Al Pacino plays a character named Will Dormer. Al Pacino is playing another lead role who occasionally uses a gun. And that’s not the only recurrence of an Al Pacino role. In fact, to even support what I said, you know how in some movies Al Pacino would do this over the top voice that sounds like Nicolas Cage if he knew which movies to actually be a part of? For example, in “Heat,” when he shouts “She got a GREAT ASS!” Yep, he does it here. Here if it were some other actor, it probably would have taken me out of the movie, but Al Pacino made it work because it’s almost like his trademark. Also, the way his character was written was rather investing throughout the film, and once it concludes, it totally works.

Next up, we’re gonna talk about Robin Williams in this movie, who gives a good performance as his character, Walter Finch. One minor complaint I have when it comes to this movie is something I noticed on the cover of my Blu-Ray I own for it, along with the poster. Robin Williams’s name is on it. And yeah, I get it, Robin Williams is a pretty big name, but he’s not really in the movie at all until the runtime approaches the second half. If Williams’s name was gonna be on the poster, I’d personally put it on the end, where Hilary Swank’s name is. After all, Hilary Swank is pretty much in the movie from beginning to end, much like Al Pacino. It reminds me of when I watched “You Can’t Have It” back in March. Rob Gronkowski, the tight end of the New England Patriots, was supposed to be in the movie, he was even in the center of one of the posters which contained a lot of characters, but he doesn’t even show up until like the final seven minutes. It just felt unnecessary and ruined a movie that while technically incompetent, still had an interesting story and a lot of likable characters. Although despite what I said Williams’s character wasn’t all that bad. When I was watching this movie for the first time almost two months ago, Walter Finch may have been my favorite character after finishing the movie. Speaking of which, let’s dive into a little more depth.

I want to talk about something I saw in the film and connect it to reality. In the movie, the murdered teen girl had a personal connection with Robin Williams’s character. Now Williams is playing a writer, he makes books. He mentions at one point, he was at a signing which the girl attended, they eventually talked, and they met a few more times after the signing. This scene actually got me thinking and made me ask a few questions to myself. Now, if you didn’t already know, one of my personal biggest idols is Curtis Armstrong, who you may know from content including “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Supernatural.” I met the guy in person before, he’s a fun dude, and personally, if I could hang around with him more, I would. After all, we have some stuff in common when it comes to our personalities. In fact, I’m actually meeting him again in just one day after this is posted. At one point, Robin Williams reveals that the girl showed him her writing when she became comfortable with that idea. For the record, she was interested in writing and a big focal point for her as a writer was poetry. He’s soon asked how the poetry was as a whole, and he replies to the person asking, saying it wasn’t good. Not long after he says the girl never knew his true thoughts about it, and he doesn’t know why he would spit something like that out of his mouth. Now I’m an aspiring screenwriter, I also enjoy writing on this blog, and I’ve been told these reviews, when it comes to my overall writing ability, have proven to be some decent material. If I wanted someone to judge me as a reviewer or as a screenwriter, I would want them to be as honest with me as possible. I would want to know if I’m the skyrocketing overlord of my craft or if I’m the pathetic ass of my craft. Although when it comes to this movie, I could understand where Walter Finch, the character played by Robin Williams, was coming from. Let’s say if I were a celebrity and I were at a convention as a special guest signing autographs and doing photo ops, I would love to meet my fans, I would love to see the stuff that they put all of their time and effort into. However, one thing I don’t want to do to my fans, is let them down. If I had a fan that came up to me at a convention, and they showed me a short review or something like that, I would love it if they’d ask for constructive criticism. I mean, heck, you guys know Doug Walker? The Nostalgia Critic? He’s at conventions all the time! If I showed him a review of mine, I’d want him to respond back to me with full honesty. I want him to tell me if it sucks, I want him to tell me if it’s awesome, I want him to tell me if it’s OK. A big thing I wondered about this movie, is what this girl was like as a person. Was she too shy to ask for constructive criticism? Did she ask for constructive criticism and never receive the truth? I’m actually curious about this. In fact, I’m even aware of my own mistakes without anyone else pointing them out. I make numerous errors on here. Here are some actual examples you may or may not have noticed from reading this blog.

Top 10 WORST Movies of 2016
“How does movie exist?!”
CORRECTION: How does this movie exist?!

“Transformers: The Last Knight” Review
(ON THE TOPIC OF CHARACTERS BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL BY PLAYING MUSIC IN SOME WAY) “I don’t recall seeing that type of humor anywhere. The closest I can say that has come to this, is during one scene from a “Family Guy” episode called “Baby, You Knock Me Out,””
CORRECTION: More than one “Family Guy” episode I witnessed was like this, “Blue Harvest” is another example.

“The Fate of the Furious” Review
“As far as other news goes, there is a TV movie coming out on HBO this Sunday, that movie is called “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” it’s based on a book by Rebecca Skloot, and focuses on the true story on the discovery of and research dedicated towards the HeLa cell, which changed cancer research forever. I MIGHT review it, I might not, I don’t even know if I’ll even see it, but if I do see it, there may be a possibility of an upcoming review concerning the film.”
CORRECTION: The movie premiered on a Saturday (By the way, I did see it, never reviewed it)

And yes, I know WordPress allows you to edit these things, at the moment I have no intentions to, because I feel I should reveal that I, am human, and I’m fallible.

Now let’s talk about Hilary Swank. She plays a character named Ellie Burr. I don’t have many complaints with this character. Some things that stood out about her is her outgoing presence and her name. And while I do think she may be the weakest of the three big names on the poster, I did enjoy her character in the movie. Although she did remind me of Optimus Prime from “Transformers,” a little bit. Weird comparison, I know. But believe me, you know how I mentioned her name stands out to me? She said her name multiple times during the movie, I mean it was necessary, but still, before she said it on multiple occasions, it almost felt like I just heard it not too long ago. You could almost dub in Optimus Prime’s voice in multiple moments of the movie and you will either hear something like “Optimus Prime,” or “My name is Optimus Prime,” or “I am Optimus Prime.” In fact, despite remembering how I technically enjoyed Hilary Swank’s character in the movie, moments containing her throughout are starting to fade from my memory.

Another minor complaint I have about this movie is the score, which is done by David Julyan, who also composed music for other Christopher Nolan flicks including “Following,” “Memento,” and “The Prestige.” I’m rather disappointed to say this because this is a Christopher Nolan movie and I usually like the scores I hear in them. At times in this movie, the score totally works and it matches perfectly with a scene, especially at the very end. But at other times, it feels like a scene should have no music whatsoever and yet there is music playing. Also, at times, the music played in certain scenes that are paced faster than others don’t really give any fast paced vibes and feel more like music that belongs in a particular segment of “Manchester by the Sea” or something.

I’ll say this and this isn’t really a spoiler or anything, but at one moment in the film, Al Pacino shoots his partner. It was kind of intense when I saw that and it felt extremely realistic given the circumstances the characters were going through. Seeing Al Pacino try to deal with this in the aftermath was rather compelling and added a bit to the overall story in terms of benefits. This leads to something else in the film that almost sounded illogical at first, but from the purpose of storytelling, it made the overall story a little more compelling than it already was.

If I have any other compliments to give towards the film, I’d say that the final shootout was awesome. I won’t go into detail, but this is one of the moments where the music (or lack of music) worked. Seeing the two sides going against each other in battle was investing and it had me glued to the screen. It was a very short fight, but it was also sweet. Some of the cinematography in this movie was pretty cool too, especially during the opening. From what I can gather, none of this film was done on a green screen, and I could definitely tell, and films like these are why I love when films are shot on location. Granted, I do enjoy all of the popcorn superhero films, but when a director wants to shoot a movie in the real world, only good things in my mind would come as a result.

In the end, “Insomnia” is definitely not Christopher Nolan’s best work, but that doesn’t mean the movie’s bad. There’s a lot to like about it. The cinematography, the characters, the performances, the editing, the dialogue. Although the film has numerous flaws, and some of them in my view, happen to be character quirks, but despite those quirks and flaws, I had a good time watching this movie. Watching this movie the second time was definitely more enjoyable than it was the first time. I’m gonna give “Insomnia” a very high 7/10. I was almost gonna give this an 8, but given time to marinate, this isn’t a movie I’d watch over and over again. Sure, it was an enjoyable ride, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t feel like something I’d be putting on in my Blu-Ray player in a week from now. Thanks for reading this review. I’m not sure if I’m gonna be seeing any movies this upcoming weekend, after all, I am going away to a family reunion. However there is a theater nearby in the town I’m staying in for a few nights, and who knows, it’s possible I could catch a movie there if there’s nothing else to do. Like, if it’s a rainy day or something.

Also, next week, I will be doing my final review in my Christopher Nolan series leading up to “Dunkirk.” That review is going to be for the 2010 flick, “Inception,” the film about a thief who is experienced in stealing ideas from others in dreams. Stay tuned for that along with more reviews! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and before I end this post, here’s a funny line from “Insomnia.”

What has two thumbs and likes blowjobs? (POINTS TO HIMSELF WITH BOTH THUMBS) This guy! -Fred Duggar


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