Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is the recently disgraced journalist/editor of Millennium magazine, because this is a science fiction story where magazines are still important publications. Mikael is basically ruined because he lost a libel case.
|Glasses off: James Bond. Glasses on: incompetent reporter.|
|It's a mystery that involves framed, dried flowers and a lack of wall space. Thrilling...?|
When he was hired, Mikael got to see the extensive background check Henrik's people had done on him; and by "extensive," I mean "obviously stepping over the line, into an invasion of privacy." Still, Mikael knows good work when he sees it, so he contacts and hires the person who learned so much about him, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), to be his research assistant. Lisbeth is rather abrasive, but she is extremely bright and is a skilled computer hacker. Pretty soon, the two of them have dusted off a forty year-old mystery and connected it to a series of brutal murders. They apparently didn't think about how much danger that puts them in, especially if Henrik is right and the killer is one of the few people with them on that island.
|Luckily, Lisbeth is the human equivalent of the honey badger|
The acting in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is good all-around. I like Daniel Craig, and it was interesting to see him in a relatively action-free role. He doesn't have quite the charisma or exude danger like he does in other movies, but he comes across as a direct, intelligent person here. I will point out, though, that the way he wore his glasses when he was thinking --- hanging off his face, like a chinstrap --- was a ridiculous choice that I have never seen replicated in nature. Or libraries. Craig had the easy role in the film, though. Rooney Mara had the tough one, and I'm not saying that because of her unfortunate bangs and bleached eyebrows.
|Shouldn't she accessorize with neck bolts?|
Robin Wright was fine as Mikael's co-worker/occasional lover. I've never been a big fan of her work, but I liked the nonchalance with which she approached her relationships. Stellan Skarsgård did not give his best performance here(I blame the character more than the actor), but he did deliver some great monologues. It is to his credit that he was able to steal attention away from Mara in his major scenes. While I have to admit that Skarsgård doesn't often star in good movies, I think he is very talented and we see glimpses of that toward the end of this film.
|"I almost made King Arthur mediocre"|
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo marks an interesting moment in the career of director David Fincher. This is the first time I have watched one of his movies and noticed how differently he would have handled it earlier in his career. In many ways, this film could have played out like Se7en, and that would have been perfectly fine because that's an awesome movie. In other words, Fincher could have made this a plot-driven film with a variety of camera gimmicks to show off his skills. For better or for worse, Fincher has embraced a more subtle touch, focusing more on the primary actors in his films recently. Sure, that sounds good on paper, but I don't think anyone will argue that Brad Pitt was more fun to watch in Benjamin Button than in Fight Club. Fincher did a great job with Rooney Mara and centered ...Dragon Tattoo around her performance. He could have gone for more graphic violence, especially in the rape scene, but he focused more on the aftermath.
Of course, that's not exactly a glowing recommendation, is it? The actors are all pretty good, and Rooney Mara's performance borders on greatness. The story's pacing was fine and I liked the overall mood of the film. It was just missing something for me. Did I want the violence to be more graphic? Maybe, although I was relieved that the rape was as brief as it was.
|Not this scene. This was awesome.|
|I also have problems with James Bond needing stitches. Wuss.|
On the other hand, this is a better movie than the 2009 Swedish version. If you're going to remake a movie, especially so soon after the original, it is important to improve upon the formula. Daniel Craig was definitely a step up in the acting department from Michael Nyqvist and Rooney Mara was about as good as (although less edgy than) Noomi Rapace. I also preferred the small changes made in this version, like what led Mikael to meeting Lisbeth. Fincher did not show off much with the cinematography, but his direction was still felt more than that of the Swedish director. I feel a little guilty for having such high expectations for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It's a Hollywood remake of a Swedish film (that I've seen) that is based on a work of popular fiction (which I normally despise as a genre). Still, I think that the acting and direction upgrades more or less negate the anticlimax. I thought that the Swedish Millennium films dropped rapidly in quality with each sequel, but this gives me hope that Fincher and co. will be able to improve on those films, as well.