Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Opens locally Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 (Special select 7PM showings Tuesday, 12/20)
Run Time: 2 hours 38 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright
Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club, Seven)
It’s not too often that we see a remake of film that was just released 2 years ago, but that’s exactly what we get with David Fincher’s version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The original was a 2009 film adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by the late Stieg Larsson, but because it was a foreign language film (in Swedish, re: inaccessible to mainstream movie-goers), it begged to be re-made with a Hollywood budget. When it was announced that Fincher was on-board as director, it quickly became one of the hottest and most anticipated movie franchises around (it is part one of the Millennium Trilogy). So, does the new version live up to the hype?
The real answer is yes and no. As a big fan of the Swedish version, nothing new is uncovered with the new film. I felt that this new version simply didn’t do anything new except remove subtitles over dialogue and perhaps juice up a few of the action scenes. Fincher gives us a film that resembles the original in tone, and doesn’t present us with anything new or ground-breaking, with the sole exception of a great score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (who also teamed with Fincher for last year’s The Social Network). For the larger audience that has not seen the original, you will find the new version very entertaining and engaging. It fits itself quite comfortably into the Fincher filmography.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is essentially a crime story…a murder-mystery that mixes many different genres of crime fiction. The story begins with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) being sued for libel after publishing accusations against a very powerful individual. He is sentenced to prison, but his term doesn't begin for six months. Disgraced, he is approached by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), a former CEO of the Vanger Group, a powerful yet dysfunctional conglomerate. Henrik asks Mikael to investigate the murder of his niece, whose disappearance over 40 years ago has remained unsolved. In exchange, Henrik offers Mikael a fortune, as well as evidence that will clear him of his crimes.
The "girl" from the film's title is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Lisbeth is a talented computer hacker, but is a troubled and tragedy-ridden gal. She looks and acts like a renegade-punk, and when the film begins we see her parole officer blackmailing her for his sexual pleasure. As the film progresses, Lisbeth and Mikael's paths cross, and they team up to uncover the mystery and disappearance of Henrik's niece.
The real discovery of this new film has to be the striking performance by Rooney Mara. Taking the mantle of Lisbeth Salander from the original actress Noomi Rapace was no small feat. In fact, the mere thought of another actress playing Lisbeth was laughable to me prior. Noomi Rapace gave an amazing break-through performance with her original rendition of the troubled bad-ass, and I didn’t think that anybody could hold a candle to her…she was Lisbeth. And I was wrong. Rooney Mara is brilliant in the role, somehow making it her own and perhaps playing it with a bit more of a mean streak. It takes nothing away from Rapace’s performance, but it could have been disastrous for the film if not portrayed properly. Her work here confirms that the franchise is in good hands with a leading lady that can surely carry the emotional weight necessary to get through the series.
Still, throughout the screening I wondered: Why mess with a film that needs not be remade?
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