February 1, 2012
I have read the Steig Larssen book and also saw the 2009 Swedish film "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." That 2009 movie was already a very good film adaptation of the best-selling novel. That movie also featured an iconic performance by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, the titular character. I do not really know why this American version even had to be made, especially during these days of globalization. However, with big names such as director David Fincher and star Daniel Craig attached to this project, and now with its 5 Oscar nominations, I felt compelled to watch this version as well.
The story is already well-known. Journalist Mikhael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) was commissioned by industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the mystery behind the 30-year disappearance of his beloved grand-daughter Harriet. Blomkvist sought the help of an unlikely investigator Lisbeth Salander, a strange-looking Goth girl with a shady past herself. Together Blomkvist and Salander unearth the dark and demented secret that had haunted the Vanger family all these years.
Granted, this American version had superior technical aspects, most probably because of its bigger production budget. It deserves the nominations it got for its breath-taking cinematography, tight film editing, and excellent sound work. Rooney Mara, whom I first saw in "The Social Network," undergoes a total change of look to portray Salander here. It must have been tough for her to create a different Salander performance distinct from that of the already acclaimed Noomi Rapace performance just two years before. Mara's Salander was quieter, more aloof, but more sexually aggressive. I cannot say though that it surpassed or was more memorable than Rapace's Salander.
Therefore, if this will be the first film of "Dragon Tattoo" that you will watch, you are in for a very stylish and exciting ride by David Fincher (whose previous works include other serial killer films like "Se7en" and "Zodiac"). However, if you had already seen the Swedish original version, you will really wonder why this version had to be done at all. There was nothing really very wrong with the first film to deserve this immediate remake.