THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (David Fincher, 2011)
Now in theaters
David Fincher knows how to make movies. The director of such standout films as Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Social Network has scored another critical and popular success with the hotly anticipated English-language remake of Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s 2005 posthumously published runaway bestseller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And “remake” is the key word, as Fincher’s film, adapted by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, American Gangster), feels like it was based more on Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 Swedish version than the book itself, but no matter, it’s still a highly entertaining, if overly long, thriller with elements all its own. Daniel Craig stars as Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who loses a high-profile case, accused of slandering a powerful businessman. Blomkvist is hired by wealthy patriarch Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who believes Blomkvist was right, to search through the dysfunctional Vanger clan and find out who murdered young Harriet forty years earlier. Blomkvist is soon joined by investigator Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a ward of the state who is being horrifically abused by her new guardian (Yorick van Wageningen), as they combine cutting-edge technology with old-fashioned detective legwork to get to the bottom of the mystery. Craig plays Blomkvist with a stark vulnerability, letting Mara drive the film with her quiet, unassuming power that’s ready to explode at any moment — and when it does, well, watch out. The soundtrack, by Trent Reznor (look for the Nine Inch Nails T-shirt in the movie) and Atticus Ross, who also composed the score for The Social Network, opens with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” sung by Karen O, that is played over a bizarre title sequence that looks like it was meant for the next James Bond adventure. The first of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an exciting psychological drama that sets the stage for the follow-ups, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, with Craig and Mara reprising their roles.