The long-awaited Americanized version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo became one of the latest movies to explore the darker side of killers, as if there is a light side. If you like this movie, you should have read all three bestselling books by Stieg Larsson and watched all three movies, the Swedish-Danish versions. The English version is quite interesting once you get past the explicit sex and violence (the Swedish version is worse, I said "not for the squeamish in my review, posted here) and get to the story of Mikael Blombkist (Daniel Craig), a reporter paid by a rich family to find their daughter from 40 years ago.
He gets an assistant in Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an antisocial, gothic punker who is a brilliant hacker, and together they uncover a hot bed of corruption. Craig is not James Bond in this movie, but he is good. Actress Mara, who was briefly in David Fincher's film The Social Network, about the origins of Facebook, is very good, but I don’t know is she as good as the original Salander played by Noomi Rapace. This is not a family movie, and definitely not a date movie, so they released it around Christmas. Warning: be prepared to see some kinky stuff, things that aren't commonly included in London or Cardiff cinema listings!
Mara's performance has certainly created a buzz, garnering an Oscar® nomination for best actress (see our list of nominations and predictions here, and director David Fincher is to be commended for being as faithful as possible both to the book and the original Swedish version while still conforming to big Hollywood conventions; but some critics think the original will be better to most people who see both side-by-side. There are a few people who actually have a bad opinion of the original best-selling novel, who think the two movie versions prove that the concept is one example of more dreary style over substance.
In the end, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo requires the viewer to either embrace its dark and sleazy subject matter and atmosphere, or else veer away from it and want some more family oriented cinema instead. If your intent is to see this at times stomach turning thriller, the David Fincher film is probably preferable to the more raw version, since there is a kind of slickness to the direction that makes the dark and twisted road he goes on more palatable to most audiences. Take a more sophisticated cinema fan with you, and hold the popcorn.
David Fincher has become one of my favorite directors, with modern classics like Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Game, and Zodiac to his credit. Here's our post of The Top Ranked Films of David Fincher