Film Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

on Tuesday, January 31, 2012
'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' (UK Release: 26 Dec '11) // Words: Lauren Johnson-Ginn

With a hugely successful novel and a well-received Swedish language adaptation released just a couple of years ago, David Fincher’s re-imagining of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' had to go quite some distance to avoid straying into pointless Hollywood remake territory – and I believe it has, perhaps even outdoing the original.

Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a beleaguered magazine owner who loses all journalistic credibility after publishing libellous accusations about one of Sweden’s most powerful (and dodgy) businessmen. Vilified, Blomkvist embarks on a self-imposed exile to a remote island estate, at the bidding of industry magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer).

Vanger asks Blomkvist to investigate the murder of his niece, Harriet – a murder he believes was perpetrated by a member of his own “detestable”, Nazi-packed family. Blomkvist sets out to solve the mystery, which leads him to cross paths with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) – a profoundly damaged yet incredibly intelligent investigator and computer hacker with punk/goth sensibilities and the titular dragon tattoo.

In almost every way, Fincher’s version stays true to the spirit of Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 adaptation. In fact, anyone who has seen the original will probably find themselves experiencing severe déjà vu throughout the film, as some scenes are practically identical. However, Fincher effectively borrows all the best parts of the original and tightens up the action – upping the pace and adding tension, dark humour and a greater sense of emotional investment in the characters.

Both Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig deliver accomplished performances, with Craig oddly believable as a haphazard writer – in spite of his improbably Bond-like physique – and Mara scene-stealingly intense, fiery, steely and vulnerable. The pair bring a chemistry to the screen that was perhaps slightly lacking in the original partnership of Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist (who can be seen in 'Sherlock Holmes 2' and 'Mission: Impossible 4', respectively).

Some may complain of the Swedish-lite accents adopted by most of the English-speaking cast (and admittedly I did find it curious that Daniel Craig was exempt from this), yet Fincher’s reworking of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is nevertheless thoroughly slick, stylish, brutal and compelling.

Oh, and the opening credits sequence is nothing short of epic.

'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' remains out on wide release throughout UK cinemas. Listen to an extended clip from the film's soundtrack above, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

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