Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/Canada, 2002. Alcon Entertainment, Witt/Thomas Productions, Section Eight, Insomnia Productions, Summit Entertainment. Screenplay by Hillary Seitz, based on the 1997 screenplay by Nikolaj Frobenius, Erik Skjoldbjaerg. Cinematography by Wally Pfister. Produced by Broderick Johnson, Paul Junger Witt, Andrew A. Kosove, Edward McDonnell. Music by David Julyan. Production Design by Nathan Crowley. Costume Design by Tish Monaghan. Film Editing by Dody Dorn.
Solid remake of Erik Skjoldbjaerg’s 1997 Norwegian thriller stars Al Pacino as a Los Angeles homicide detective who investigates a murder in northern Alaska, partly to escape the heat from an Internal Affairs investigation that is targeting him. Finding himself in a part of the world where the sun doesn’t set at all during the summer, Pacino’s mental state is slowly unravelled by his inability to sleep thanks to all the light, and the hallucinations and paranoia that come from this start to influence his judgement on the job. Things start to heat up for him when he accidentally shoots his own partner (Martin Donovan) while on the chase of the real killer (Robin Williams), then takes measures to cover up the accident as much as possible. Trouble is, the murderer witnessed him do this, and now wants to blackmail him into a devil’s pact that will benefit them both if only Pacino will go along with it. The plot has been severely pumped up from the original, particularly for the role of the gumshoe female detective (Hilary Swank) who tags along on the case and ends up smartening up to the dark deeds around her, but instead of concentrating only on senseless violence (as most American adaptations of European films do, see Point of No Return versus La Femme Nikita), director Christopher Nolan (Memento) has maintained the story as a fascinating psychological character study just as compelling as it was in Skjoldbjaerg’s original. Beautifully scored with haunting music and excellently performed (particularly a quietly unsettling Williams), this is definitely a thriller with an edge, the kind of atypical box-office bait that people are often wishing Hollywood would make more of.