Film Review: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 2011

David Fincher gives Larsson an unnecessary Hollywood treatment.

David Fincher’s (Se7en, Fight Club) English language remake of Stieg Larsson’s Swedish crime novel is sleeker, smoother and more action centred than it’s Scandinavian predecessor. To some that will be an improvement, and to others take away the gritty realism that first attracted them.

If you have yet to see the original, disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is called in by industrialist Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his niece forty years previously. Set against the snowy Swedish landscape Blomkvist’s investigation leads him into a history of crimes against women.

He hires an assistant, Lisbeth (Rooney Mara), a tattooed and borderline psychopathic computer hacker with a serious axe to grind.

girl with the dragon tattoo 2011

The Trent Reznor feedback-laden score adds a chilling dimension, but at over 2 and a half hours there are too many side stories going on for too long. Lisbeth’s relationship with her guardian also distracts from the murder mystery for longer chunks than necessary, and the heart of the movie is at times left standing in the wings.

The stark violence of Oplev’s 2009 film is replaced with more cuts to long shots of symbiotics. Mara and Craig are both fabulous in this. Mara’s Salander (who you may remember as Zuckerberg’s ex-girlfiend in another Fincher movie, The Social Network) is more aggressive and stark than Noomi Rapace who played up to Lisbeth’s mystery in the first adaptation, and as a result her love for Craig’s Blomkvist is even more poignant.

Hollywood’s vision of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo IS good and it may be shinier and sleeker and sexier than the original, but did we really need it? The answer is probably no, and director Fincher has already done this sort of thing better in Zodiac.

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

Whether they decide to remake the other two movies in the trilogy will depend on the success of this one, initial response in the US has been lukewarm and in it’s first week of release was behind MI: Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes and even Alvin and the Chipmunks at the box office.

However such is the success of the books (selling over 23 million copies to date), chances are they will bit the bullet and take the risk. In for a penny, in for a pound, or should that be Krona?