David Fincher is really up against it with his adaption of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. It’s based on the popular book series by Steig Larsson and bookworms are always protective of their favourites getting the Hollywood treatment. Making things a little trickier is the Swedish film adaption of the entire series that most people have no doubt seen, unless you’ve been living in the storeroom of a tattoo parlour of the last ten years. So why bother seeing Fincher’s film? It’s David Fincher dammit! His take on ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is a superb thriller that should keep fans and newcomers happy.
Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by a wealthy businessman to investigate the disappearance of a family member who has been missing for over 40 years. Blomkvist is aided by a young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work on the case it becomes clear that it’s more than a just a standard missing persons investigation.
From the very beginning of the film Fincher sets the tone with a brilliant opening titles sequence that projects dark and twisted techno-punk imagery to an adrenaline fueled cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with vocals from Karen O from the band the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. It’s Fincher’s way of letting the audience know they’re about to fall down a rabbit hole that’s lined with barbed wire, and it perfectly matches the bleak tone of the books.
Fincher is the perfect director to adapt Larrson’s work for mainstream audiences and he stays faithful to the material with a few minor changes that work well. The film moves at nice pace as the mystery unfolds, and there are a few really good tense and unsettling moments. ‘Dragon Tattoo’ isn’t your standard Hollywood thriller and Fincher stays true to the themes of the book as a commentary on a society of men that abuse their power and mistreat women. The translation of Larsson’s book from Swedish to English is ‘men who hate women’ and Fincher keeps that idea bubbling away underneath the film.
Mara is great playing Salander and her physical transformation and interpretation of the character is spot on. Craig is good but doesn’t have a lot to work with but that’s more a criticism of the material. Blomkvist was dull in the books and it has flowed through all the adaptations – it’s Salander’s show after all. There are enjoyable but brief appearances by Christopher Plummer and the always terrific Stellan Skarsguard.
The length of the film is an issue, and two and half hours is too long. When the end is in sight it proves to be only a mirage and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ has more endings than ‘The Return of the King’. The only positive for the drawn out finale is the significant effort that is put into setting up the characters for sequels.
If you enjoy a good mystery that’s as grimy as a stomped on cigarette on the pavement, then ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ will have you hooked. Fans of the books should be pleased and sequels have been green-lit by Sony.
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is now showing.
The Popcorn Junkie