The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) Review

Just a mere two years after the release of the Swedish film of the same name, is it really a surprise to see it remade? For what I hope is most of us, the answer to that should be a resounding yet morose no. Still, Hollywood strikes again with a remake that seems unnecessary. I mean, two years might just be enough time to wipe a person’s memory of a film. So was there really any need for this Larsson’s novel to be filmised again? Well, I supposed this is the point where fans divide…

The story follows Stockholm’s defamed investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). Despite his recent scandal, he receives a job offer from Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the retired CEO of the Vager Industries. The job is to solve the murder of Henrik’s niece Harriet, who disappeared almost 40 years previously. And then there’s Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), everyone’s favourite anti-social tattooed computer hacker who is roped into the investigation by Blomkvist. As their research deepens, so does the danger revolving the investigation.

While Hollywood’s ingenuity seems to be running dry and their risks regards taking on innovative work is few and far between, remakes, sequels and adaptations have become all the rage. For fans of the original film, it does seem a tad bit unnecessary to regurgitate a story just because it’s not in English – I suppose it’s just too gorram hard to read a few words whilst watching a show. That task of retelling TGWTDT lay with director David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Zodiac and The Social Network) and his team. Fincher is an indulgent director; the kind  that will shoot one scene hundreds of times just so it’s perfect and with TGWTDT it shows. With the combined effort of cinematographer Jeff Croenweth, screenplay writer Steve Zaillian, editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall and musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who scored the film, the result is sleeker than its predecessor.

With a film that has such an extensive cast that also includes Robin Wright, Joely Richardson and Stellan Skarsgard, you would expect more than just one to shine. 007’s Craig certainly does fill Michael Nyqvist’s shoes and some may argue that he does it better than Nyqvist himself. Previously never a fan Craig (and with films like Cowboys & Aliens can I really be blamed?), he is brilliant as Blomkvist. He pulls you into Blomkvist’s troubles right off the bat with a charm that is not too overbearing. He’s cool and laid back and while you’re casting judging eyes over the rest of the cast, he seems like the guy you can root for. But Craig is no means the star of this film, that crown lies with the now Oscar nominated Rooney Mara.

Mara’s (The Social Network and The Nightmare on Elm Street) take on Salander is far more in you face than Noomi Rapace’s. Out with the goth fair of Rapace, Mara’s look consists of several piercings, porcelain skin, uneven hair and blond-dyed eyebrows all serving to harshen Salander’s exterior. She’s terse, explicit, stand-offish and, at times, comical even when she really shouldn’t be. Without seemingly little effort, she steals each scene she’s in regardless who she is with and what she the scene is – whether it be one of the most graphic (seriously, even if you’re not in any way squeamish or light-hearted you’ll be shutting your eyes!) or something  lighter.

Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the 2009 verision, said ‘Why would they remake something when they can just go see the original?’ in an interview. Although I would usually agree with this and I defiantly stand by the phrase if it’s not broken, don’t fix it, Fincher’s remake is just that much more compelling than the original. I welcome the sequel.

[xrr rating=4/5]

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