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In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.
Robert Downey Jr.,
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
Lisbeth is recovering in a hospital and awaiting trial for three murders when she is released. Mikael must prove her innocence, but Lisbeth must be willing to share the details of her sordid experiences with the court.
This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch's niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined. Written by
Exceptional; improves upon an already fantastic film
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a rather large fan following and for good reason. The 2009 Swedish film is incredibly solid and well-acted with just the right amount of wrong. The two sequels that followed had their own uphill battles (switching directors, lower budget, etc) and weren't necessarily bad, but just failed to capture that raw emotional tenacity the original film offered. When news of a remake began making the usual rounds, there was a fairly large uproar amongst the internet community (isn't there always?), especially when it was announced Noomi Rapace wouldn't be returning as Lisbeth Salander. Most American remakes aren't directed by David Fincher though and while it isn't vastly different in comparison to its Swedish counterpart, Fincher has at least improved upon what was already a fantastic piece of cinema.
The opening of the film was a bit unexpected. "The Immigrant Song" cover by Trent Reznor and Karen O plays over these really fluid visuals that are a bit hard to describe. Imagine the T-1000 from Terminator 2 made of motor oil or tar instead of metal and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. It was just very different from other film credits from the rest of the year while also being very sleek, very stylish, and very David Fincher.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is extremely dialogue driven, so be prepared for a lot of talking. It feels very similar to Zodiac in that sense yet more captivating. Even though I had seen the original film and knew most of the major plot points, I still found myself getting sucked into the story. Even if you hate this version of the film and your loyalty remains firmly with the Swedish film, you can probably at least agree that Fincher's version is visually the better of the two. The cinematography is just brilliant. You've gotten teases in the trailers, but the coldest winter in 20 years for Sweden looks so bloody fantastic on screen; the amazing scenery, those long drives through the snow, feeling like you're on the back of Lisbeth's motorcycle as she roars through a tunnel, and the inner shot of a plastic bag among many other things. The film is just a joy to look at from beginning to end.
The score is also just as brilliant as the one for The Social Network, if not slightly better. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross seem to explore territory they didn't get to explore on The Social Network score. This one seems to feature more out of tune instruments, which is an interesting touch. The score hints at rising tension throughout the film always making you feel like there's always something else to the story lurking around the corner waiting for the right moment to strike. It's haunting, unnerving, and just spectacular overall.
Noomi Rapace was an exceptional Lisbeth Salander and with that said so is Rooney Mara. Just the amount of devotion she put into the role with the piercings being genuine, bleaching her eyebrows, cutting her hair, learning how to ride a motorcycle, using a very convincing Swedish accent, coming off as being just as messed up as her appearance lets on, and being completely nude is an incredible accomplishment. It's not out of the question to believe that a role this physical could get her nominated for best actress at the Academy Awards. The entire cast just seems like they fit their roles a bit better than they did in the Swedish film. This is one of the only performances of Daniel Craig's I can actually say I enjoyed while Stellan Skarsgård is just wonderfully demented. Then there's Yorick van Wageningen that's just downright despicable as Nils Bjurman. It doesn't seem like it's something as simple as "oh, you're showing favoritism towards a remake because it's in English now." That isn't the case at all. Fincher's attention to detail to the source material is practically Kubrick-like. It shows in every frame of the film.
Fincher's version also seems to feature a lot more of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander being together. They have more sex and they're featured together more on-screen in comparison to the Swedish version. It was a nice addition that made the slightly altered ending a lot more impactful. The whistling doors in Martin's house were also amazing. I can't recall if that was in the Swedish version or not, but it brought a smile to my face with how something so small meant so much.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is obviously not going to be for everybody. It relies on extremely long discussions to drive most of the two and a half hour duration of the film. In between though, it becomes difficult to watch mostly with how Nils Bjurman handles giving Lisbeth more money and her response. Lisbeth's response will more than likely have you tiptoeing out of the theater as delicately as possible since you'll still be feeling it. With a phenomenal cast, incredibly rich cinematography, a brilliant score, and Rooney Mara's best performance to date, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not only an improvement over the original but easily one of the best films of the year.
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