The workup is a bit contrived, with Dormer coming to Alaska from LA to help out an old buddy with a murder investigation as he is himself being investigated by internal affairs. This serves as a foundation for the two storylines. The first is the animosity that develops between Dormer and his partner, who wants to cut a deal with internal affairs. The second, of course, is the murder investigation. Local detective Ellie Burr, who is fawning all over Dormer and has read all his books on detective work, begins to suspect that her hero may have feet of clay.
The psychodrama becomes intense as Dormer is confronted with communications from his killer nemesis Walter Finch. Add to this his inability to get any sleep in Alaska's perpetual daylight and you have a man driven to the absolute brink.
Nolan does an excellent job of shooting this film and the editing intensifies the psychological tension. The cinematography is also superb, aided by the majestic Alaskan and British Columbian locations. While the interaction between Dormer and Finch is unlikely, the symbiotic relationship that develops is fascinating and Nolan squeezes every psychological tingle that can be wrung from it.
Pacino is masterful as the insomniac cop who has made certain ethical compromises in his career in the name of justice. He looks so terrible that he must have been purposely depriving himself of sleep to increase the realism of the character. Pacino gives Dormer (an interesting play on the latin dormire, "to sleep", a dormer is the window of a sleeping room) a hard edge that gradually erodes as he becomes more sleep deprived, blurring the distinction between good and evil.
This is an excellent big budget debut for Nolan and another terrific performance by Pacino. The suspense and pace are first rate and despite the contrivances, it delivers.