Director Christopher Nolan warms up for Dark Knight duty with this riveting suspense thriller starring Al Pacino as a troubled cop probing a murder in the permanent daylight of Alaska. Chief suspect: a sneeringly effective and totally against-type Robin Williams. Hilary Swank lends Pacino a hand as the local cop on the ice-cold case.
There was always going to be something fishy going on in a town that prides itself as being the halibut capital of the world.
So when inexperienced police in the north Alaskan port of Nightmute can't solve the brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl they call in help.
Veteran LAPD detective Will Dormer (Pacino) and his partner Hap (Donovan) fly north... but along with their luggage they also bring other baggage.
They are both the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation back in LA and Hap is ready to cut a deal - a move Dormer predicts will bring him down.
The careworn cop immediately sets to work gleaning evidence the local rozzers have overlooked and a stake-out at a remote cabin pays dividends when the killer shows up.
However, he manages to give them the slip in the fog, and things go from bad to worse when Dormer accidentally shoots Hap dead in the confusion.
It looks grim. To investigating officers, Dormer has the perfect motive for wanting Hap out of the way - saving his neck and his career.
So he claims it was the killer who shot Hap and slickly continues closing in on the murderer... until he gets a call that changes everything.
Based on an obscure 1997 Norwegian film, Nolan - who shot to fame with Memento - keeps a vice-like grip on proceedings and the parallel plot strands glide along like a well-oiled machine.
Pacino's look of perplexed resignation masks a mind that is finding it difficult to fire on all cylinders, as sleep deprivation - thanks to the midnight sun - takes its toll.
Williams - who many people would happily swing for - turns in a malevolently devious performance... a comedian perfectly suited to playing a villain, in the same way Michael Palin chilled so convincingly as the cheery torturer in Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
It's an intelligent film - complex but not convoluted - that isn't afraid to pose questions like "do the ends justify the means?" It's also one of the best movies of the year.