The Hollywood remake is something many fear. An original idea redone again and again, nine times out of ten coming out like nasty pulp. I haven’t seen the original Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but I think I can guess this is in the one out of ten.
TGWTDT is a mystery thriller and follows two characters. Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a writer of a magazine, and Rooney Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker. Mikael is off on a trip to a family island to uncover the mystery of the disappearance of a girl forty years previously and Lisbeth has to put up with a new guardian who likes to play dirty. As Mikael’s investigation becomes a struggle and Lisbeth manages to free herself from the new guardian, the two end up meeting and work together. Action, romance and twists make up an excellent thriller. The story manages to shock, surprise and arouse, all in equal measure. Everything is bleak yet the two leads welcome you into the fold.
And the two characters is what makes TGWTDT. The story while having the right moments of tension and surprises, is nothing particularly special. The mystery plays out like Cluedo and rape is around every corner. Mikael starts looks like he’s seen his fair share of troubles and his calm approach to matters make him a character to support and stick by, even if he is the only one in the film to not bother with an accent. Lisbeth on the other hand is visually striking with her tattoos, piercings, hair style and clothing, and her personality is fascinating. She has had things a little rough in her life and this can be seen through the body language she uses, separate from others and always hanging round corners. Everything she does helps paint her personality without having to feed us the information and her scary side is certainly a little messed up. Safe to say, you don’t want to get on Lisbeth’s bad side.
While the characters impress and the violence is intense, I felt the film wasn’t quite as stylish as I was led to believe. Black and white promotional posters and a James Bond like opening had me ready for some real visual treat, but apart from a few of Lisbeth’s ventures, TGWTDT is quite standard in direction and sound. The story also meanders off towards the end, spending time on the opening plot point which pushes Mikael to the island. After the excellent island mystery comes to a close, to see some rather over the top-secret agency style work from Lisbeth and Mikael going a little flat is not the best way to end the film. It follows the book sure, but it does feel like a big comedown. Nice little ending which breaks the expected though.
Overall TGWTDT is a neat thriller with strong characters, solid storytelling and a lot of violence which might put a few weaker hearted individuals off. After a rather pleasant scene involving a taser, a dildo and tattoo tools, a bunch of people walked out. Guess it hit too close to home.