Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Fincher Makes First-Rate Adaptation of Grisly Swedish Crime Saga
Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) resigns from his position as editor of Millennium Magazine after being unable to substantiate the incendiary allegations he’d made about a corrupt billionaire (Ulf Friberg). Fortuitously, the disgraced journalist is soon secretly approached by an intermediary representing recently-retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the mysterious murder of his beloved niece, Harriet (Moa Garpendal), back in 1966.
Mikael jumps at the job offer, since his desire to escape the media circus surrounding him in Stockholm conveniently dovetails with the aging patriarch’s need to reopen the case right on location at the family’s secluded estate where Harriet had disappeared into thin air. An additional incentive is Henrik’s promise to provide the proof necessary to overturn the libel conviction.
So, straightaway, Mikael moves up to the remote island of Hedestad in northern Sweden, and starts sifting through the boxes of 40 year-old evidence. After unearthing an array of sordid skeletons in the Vanger family closet ranging from anti-Semitism to sadomasochism, he realizes that he sure could use the help of an assistant, and takes Henrik’s suggestion that he collaborate with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant, if bizarre-looking, computer whiz.
Mikael is willing to pardon the young hacker’s tattoos, multiple piercings and punked-out hairstyle because of her passion about catching any creep who’d harm a female. And her technical skills do prove to be the perfect complement to Henrik’s uncanny ability to interview surviving witnesses despite their putting on aristocratic airs. Still, not surprisingly, the closer they come to solving the mystery, the more dangerous a situation they find themselves embroiled in.
So unfolds The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a worthy remake of the Swedish-language thriller of the same name just released in 2009. Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network) this English-language version is actually a rarity in that it is an improvement over its foreign film original.
Both movies are based on the first installment of the trilogy of novels by the late Stieg Larsson, and Sony Pictures has already committed to adapting the other two books to the screen, too. Here, scene-stealer Rooney Mara is nothing short of riveting as the ever-edgy Lisbeth, while Daniel Craig disappears into his role as Mikael sufficiently so you forget about the fact that he also plays James Bond.
An intricately-woven, edge-of-your-seat whodunit as graphic and grisly as it is cerebral and mind-bending.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for rape, torture, brutal violence, profanity, frontal nudity and graphic sexuality.
Running time: 158 minutes
Distributor: Columbia Pictures