The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

OK maybe I lied, Americans acting like a Swedish people are more effed up.

This is basically the same exact premise as the Swedish original with a young computer hacker, Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) becomes entangled with a journalist, Mikael (Daniel Craig), over a case of a young girl’s death that is over 40 years old.

Never reading the book but seeing the Swedish original, I kind of knew right away what I was getting myself into. Even though it didn’t fully come out the way I would have liked to wish, I still couldn’t think of a better way to spend my Christmas night then watching 2 hours and 40 minutes worth of incest, rape, lesbians, and James Bond wearing glasses.

One of the problems with the remake was the fact that it didn’t really take too much time fleshing everything out from the characters to the mystery itself. Everything sort of just felt a little rushed but with this one, not so much. Writer Steven Zaillian does a great job of keeping this dialogue on many roads but giving them all enough time to flesh out and still seem effective at the end when it’s all said and done. You got to also give Zaillian a lot of credit for not trying to dumb it down for audiences in any way either.

However, this film is solely David Fincher‘s and almost every frame here, he reminds of you that. Fincher has been really getting farther and farther up my list for my favorite director and it’s inspired directions like this that make me understand why I feel this way. Fincher does not put in a scene here that doesn’t mean anything to the plot and instead every scene he puts in adds something more to the story every-time whether it being more material found out about Harriet, Lisbeth boning Mikael again, or just some more crazy-shit going down for this story. Fincher is working his A-game with this flick and doesn’t stop once to slow down or take a breather, don’t go into this blind, you will want to rip your hair out, and that’s something that Fincher likes to hear.

Even though his direction is incredible though, I still felt some tension was a little lost for many reasons. One of the reasons being here is that I felt like he should have at least taken more time with this story because when he does, it puts you on-the-edge-of-your-seat without any remorse. There also isn’t much time for Fincher to build up tension within a certain scene rather than just focusing on a lot of fast-cuts and quick chases in between two characters. There was probably one scene by the end of the flick where I really felt the real deal tension that I would usually get with a ‘Seven’ or ‘The Game’ or even ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ for that matter.

Another reason why I felt a lot of the tension was lost was because this is a re-make and even though some scenes are either changed, left out, or breezed right over that are from the original, I still couldn’t feel like I saw this story before but except with different people. The original film was all about the unpredictability of it and having no idea where this case was going to take either character, and just who was going to end up alive or dead. Here, the film didn’t change all that much so knowing all of the twists and happenings of the plot was kind of a real bummer and sort of felt lackluster for me even though I still do think Fincher gives it his all. You can only do so much with a film that has been by so many in the first place Finch, but I’m glad they gave it to you to direct.

The biggest selling point for this film was in fact The Girl herself: Lisbeth Salander who’s played by Rooney Mara aka that girl that broke up with Mark Zuckerberg in the beginning of ‘The Social Network’. I don’t think anyone ever thought that they would soon again be seeing the same chick about a year and two months later with tats, piercings, and full-on nakey scenes all-over-the-place. To say the least though, Mara is amazing here and brings a lot more to a role that was already down pat by Noomi Rapace. Mara has a lot to do here and in such a demanding role, she makes everything seem believable with a tough-ass character like Lisbeth that at times may go away but you never forget her and it’s only a short-time until she’s back on being a scary chick like usual. Mara definitely deserves an Oscar nomination probably because Rapace got one and I think that Mara should at least get a lot more roles now considering the last time I remembering her doing something this dark was ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ aka the awesome remake….

One of my biggest and bitchiest complaints of the original was the fact that the film barely even focused on Mikael, who was a totally cool character in and of himself. This is something that this film does not do and instead gave me what I would like to say Daniel Craig‘s best performance since he first decked out the James Bond look in ‘Casino Royale’. Mikael is an interesting character and it was cool to see him get a lot of time spent on him even when Lisbeth does come around to eff shit up. Even though he did not stand a chance from taking Mara’s spot-light, Craig is still great and offers up that real human-being aspect of a character that needed more attention to him in the first place.

Everybody else here is pretty damn good as well with plenty of creepy and eerie performances given by Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, and Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger who with this and ‘Anonymous’ earlier this year has found herself really heating things up and getting our minds away from the fact that she went out with the kid that played her son in ‘Nip/Tuck’. Yeah, it’s a little creepy but then again just watch one episode of that show and it will seem pretty normal after awhile.

Let’s also not forget to mention that this film also features another kick-ass score from the minds of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Every time Fincher teams up with these guys, they just somehow make magic together and almost every scene that is under-lined with another piece of the score music, the more and more creepy the film gets without over-doing it. Also, this film definitely features one of the best and most random opening sequences to a film that I’ve seen all year. You can basically that ‘Immigrant Song’ cover to anything, and I guess that anything here was whips, chains, and very black and oily people.

Consensus: If you have seen the original, everything here may feel a bit familiar and old, but with Fincer’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you don’t know what to expect with some great tension, non-stop fast pace, and great performances from the whole cast, especially Mara who shows her total role commitment and deserves some type of recognition come February.



  1. I think you enjoyed this one a lot more than I did, but you also summed up the reasons that I couldn’t get into it: Neither the characters nor the mystery seemed fleshed out enough for me to care about them. And the tense moments seemed underdeveloped too. Keep up the great reviews Dan!

  2. I haven’t had the time to see this yet, but from what you’re saying in your review and taking my personal tastes into consideration, this might be something I might just wait on to be available as a streaming option, haha. Nice review though, definitely tells me what I need to know.

    By the way, if I could make a suggestion–would you consider using the more tag for your entries? I feel like it would help me scroll through your site much faster. My computer’s kind of slow and sometimes I only have time to quickly skim through your titles to see what pokes out the most that I make a mental note to read up on later. 🙂

  3. Sounds like another interesting opening sequence from Fincher. Great review. Still not sure if this is worth forking out for at the cinema if I’ve seen the original.

  4. Awesome review! I really liked this film. I had seen the original and that second sex scene was a pleasant surprise! That’s probably how I’d review the film in one sentence… “More bang for your buck.”

  5. i agree, i liked what Fincher kept in. the movie was so visually stimulating, i was panting by the end lol. mara was impressive in the role, but, yes, rapace was simply fierce in the role. i just didn’t like the ending, but i thought the rest, including the beginning credits and the amazing score was pretty awesome. mikael has always been an interesting vcharacter, but i don’t think that’s fully realized here. he is outshined and outdone by lisbeth, but i kind of like that. we were teased with his storyline, which is all i needed.

  6. I’m still not sure which version I liked better, but I thought Fincher did a great job with the source material. Terrific performances from Mara and Craig, and another killer soundtrack from Reznor/Ross to boot. And yeah, that opening sequence was pretty badass…

    • I thought Fincher’s version was better in ways but that’s not really saying much considering that i knew everything that was going to happen in the end. Thanks Eric!

  7. I hadn’t read the book or seen the foreign film going in, so it was all new to me as far as story goes.

    I ended up being more interested in Lisbeth than in the Vanger mystery, and would have been more satisfied with a film built around Rooney’s take on the character.

    But what I did get with another great demonstration of Fincher’s abilities.

  8. I agree with you that Fincher made a better film than the original. I also appreciated that he made it even bleaker than the Swedish version which I didn’t think was possible.

  9. Good write up! The synth-y score is stellar. I actually can’t find anything bad to say about the film, it lived up to every expectation, as it should have. However, that’s its problem, it doesn’t leave any room to wow.

  10. Nice review. I’m the opposite of you — I read the book but never saw the Swedish film. I loved this movie. I agree with you that it would have been nice to see some of the character relationships fleshed out a little more (especially between Blomkvist and Henrik Vanger), but most of the other aspects were so awesome that this didn’t bother me all that much. Fincher is one of my favorite directors of all-time.

    I just wrote a pretty in-depth post about this movie (saw it yesterday).

  11. Great review, I came here after you commented on my blog and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – this version probably builds the story better than the ‘original’. Personally I feel like the original tried too hard to be faithful to the book but in doing so it struggled to tell the story itself. Good, but each scene in this version tells you more. I think one example is the scene when Mikael first goes to Martin Vanger’s house for dinner and Martin gets up to go and close a window to stop the sound of the wind howling. I thought that was a fantastic link to Martin’s final scene with Mikael – subtle and very cleverly done. Enjoyed your review!

  12. I never saw the original or read the book, but as a newcomer I found the movie nearly flawless. The emsemble was phenomenal (though I wished there would have been more Christopher Plummer) and the story was fast-paced. My review will be up soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s