The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

There have been a lot of reviews that have jumped on the bandwagon of comparing David Fincher’s latest with the Swedish original. Completely natural, but after a while it just turns into a pointless ‘who would win in a fight? Superman or Godzilla?’ argument. Director of the 2009 version, Niels Arden Oplev, asked why anyone would see Fincher’s when they could see the original. Somehow suggesting his is the superior version. We would like to retort with why should you see either when you could read the book? It’s called choice, Oplev.

Anyway, with all that in mind, EBFS is going to stick its fingers in its ears, go lalalalalala and pretend there hasn’t already been an attempt to bring Steig Larsson’s novel, Men Who Hate Women, to life. Okay? We’re all agreed? Let’s move on then.

Disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkist (Daniel Craig) is hired by retired CEO Henrik Vagner (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of his grand-daughter 40 years previously, believing her to have been murdered by one of her own family. During his investigation, Blomkist hires Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara); a researcher for a security firm and ward to the state. As the two grow closer to the truth, they grow closer to each other. And that’s the potted version.

With a plot encompassing rape, revenge and Nazis, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dense film based on a dense book. In a similar fashion to LA Confidential, Steven Zaillian shaves off a number of characters superfluous to the main plot; keeping it lean, mean and vicious. Like Lisbeth Salander herself. The credit sequence itself is a primal scream, reminiscent of Fincher’s Fight Club, encouraging, nay, demanding you pay attention (see above). The film simmers, never rushing to conclusions. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ script throbs at the back of your head, almost penetrating your brain during the scenes of violence.

Both the leads stand out for very different reasons. Mara is superb as Salander; playing her equal parts violent school child and intelligent sociopath. If there was someone else who had played this part before her, and EBFS is still refusing to acknowledge there is another film during this review, then Mara certainly holds her ground in comparison. She’s subtle; her blank expressions showing so much of the character within. Not bad for a girl from Urban Legends 3. Craig stands out because he’s the only one NOT putting on a Swedish accent. We can only assume he kept impersonating the Swedish Chef before Fincher gave in and let him do his own thing.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a brutal film that stays faithful to the original. If you’ve already decided not to see it because of some allegiance to another version that may or may not exist, you owe it yourself to make the effort to this. As Salander said, there will be blood.

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