One question for Christopher Nolan: Why? Does he think
people are sitting around at home thinking, ďYou know Iíd
like to watch more Norwegian film, but I just donít find it
accessible. I wish some director would come along and remake
a fantastic Norwegian movie so that I can watch it?Ē Or perhaps
he simply thought to himself, ďIt would be very artistically
satisfying to remake a recent film scene-for-scene, but change
everything that makes the original good, including the ending.Ē
Regardless of the thought process that led to this movie,
it is a waste of time. And if youíve already seen the original,
donít even think twice about this rehash because it offers
absolutely nothing fresh.
Al Pacino plays Will Dormer, an LA police detective
sent to Alaska with his partner (Donovan) to solve
a murder and to escape the pressure that Internal Affairs
has been putting on the two cops. Upon arrival, Dormer meets
the local fuzz (Swank), discovers the 24-hour sunlight,
and learns that his partner is going to cut a deal with IA
and roll over on Dormer. Heís understandably mad. Then during
the course of the investigation Dormer accidentally shoots
his partner. Or was it an accident? As Dormer continues to
lose sleep because of the constant sun, he plays a deadly
game with the killer (Williams) and begins to lose
Aside from the IA subplot and the ending, this movie is exactly
like the original. The dialogue is different and obviously
in English instead of Norwegian, but every plot point is exactly
the same. Entire scenes are lifted straight from the original.
Itís disturbing because there is no originality at work here.
Any dope with a camera could make this movie. Except for the
ending, which is a drastic change from the original, but in
a very bad way.
In the original movie, the protagonist (played by Stellan
Skarsgard) was an anti-hero. He crossed well beyond the
line of good. He was amoral and creepy. The beauty of the
movie came from its ability to represent the cop as more evil
than the criminal. Here, that theme gets sold down the river.
Apparently American audiences canít handle amorality, so Pacino
becomes a good guy. Tarnished, but good. The critically important
role of the hotelkeeper becomes a ridiculous walk-on part
in this version. The original has a fantastic ambiguous grayscale
palette to its cinematography; this film has none of that.
The locals change from being unnervingly hostile to bland
and friendly. The list of changes goes on, but in short, all
the little things that make the original so good, disappear.
If it werenít a remake, this film might not be so bad. After
all, most of the cast gives fine performances. Williamsí take
on the perverse but human killer is refreshing, and Swankís
wide-eyed rookie role has some bite to it. Pacino is in decent
form, but he sometimes appears to be ignoring the title and
sleeping through his scenes. The original spoils any gains
in this department, though. The actors are vastly superior
in the original, and their interactions have profound meaning.
This versionís characters converse like, well, Padme and Anakin.
(Well, maybe thatís too harsh.)
In the end we must return to Nolan. What was he thinking?
Why did he abandon the unique storytelling patterns he pioneered
in Following and Memento? And why did he remake
a movie that came out only five years ago? I find this trend
disturbingly pathetic, and I hope that this film and Vanilla
Sky are the only examples of this breed. Hollywood steals
from books, comics, reality, TV, itself, and now, modern foreign
films. Whoís left to steal the candy of creativity from? Babies,
thatís who. And I for one wonít stand for such amorality.
Join me fellow moviegoer. Rebuke modern Hollywood, save your
hard-earned money, and force filmmakers to come up with their