Unlike David Denby, we waited until Sony took down their press embargo to post our review of David Fincher’s anticipated “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” a methodical adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel. If successful, it’s expected to kick-start an American version of the extremely popular Swedish trilogy (though no word yet if Fincher would return for subsequent installments). So, now that we’re able to discuss the film at length, here’s my review of Fincher’s latest:
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (*** out of 4)
Yep, that’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Audience members taking their first plunge into Stieg Larsson’s icy den of Swedish snakes likely will muster more enthusiasm. The 40-year-old missing-persons mystery and the captivatingly shocking personification of mythological anti-hero Lisbeth Salander should resonate with “Tattoo” virgins.
And really, isn’t that the point of Fincher’s film? To lure in patrons who’ve avoided Larsson’s pulpy launch of the “Millennium” trilogy or skipped the sufficient 2009 adaptation? Because the story driving Fincher’s latest is instantly recognizable to the millions who’ve either skimmed Larsson’s novel or watched the Swedish take. And while this new “Dragon” benefits from a tight squeeze through Fincher’s calculated, cold filter – and, you know, does away with those pesky subtitles — knowing the answers to the film’s sordid mysteries strips away most of the picture’s punch.
Hewing closer to Larsson’s book, Fincher moves a few set pieces around but still recounts the herculean efforts of besmirched journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) to locate Harriet Vanger, who vanished off of her family’s island and was never seen again. Blomkvist’s investigation on behalf of Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) eventually pairs him with gifted computer hacker Salander (Rooney Mara), and the two unearth the buried history of a serial killer who has quietly prayed on the Swedish countryside for decades.
But, of course, you likely knew this. “Girl” sold millions of copies, and Noomi Rapace’s transformation into the angel of vengeance that is Lisbeth propelled both the character and the actress to the forefront of our pop culture.
Fincher’s translation of Larsson’s material also embraces key themes that propped up the original book and movie. Actions have consequences. Murder, like film direction, is the science of a thousand details (and Fincher, as usual, masters nearly all of them). Men hate women, but occasionally, women fight back. The dark, abusive material can be tough to endure, especially when you [...]