Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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Directed by: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer

Considering roughly one out of four releases looming on the horizon are adaptations based on their best-selling literary mediums, this now tiresome trend has still managed to remain one of the more widely accepted ones in Hollywood. As for the wilder side of things, pre-existing foreign takes on their source material have been getting the A-list English language treatment as of late, making themselves inherently more accessible to a wider audience at the risk of discrediting what the original film had to offer. Make of this what you will, but the fact of the matter is last year’s Let Me In effectively set the bar high for this questionable new format, assuring us that director Matt Reeves’ ambition in pairing his signature style with literally the same central premise helped his go with the material come out on top. This time around, David Fincher has once again done the unthinkable in surpassing his effort’s Swedish-language counterpart in nearly every way, flaunting his renowned, impeccable visual flair to compliment the amount of general appeal his steady hand has managed to pump into the film’s rather mundane literary roots.

From the moment the dazzling introductory credits begin to roll, you can immediately assume that Fincher had no intention of letting his version of Dragon Tattoo fall victim to any number of criticisms that go hand-in-hand with the circumstances surrounding the production’s inception. Fully embracing the auteur’s ability to engross from an aesthetic standpoint while keeping even the most overstuffed and sometimes uneventful narratives moving along at a nice clip, the film never once feels like the slog its nearly three-hour run time suggests it should be. Remaining true to its roots as an appropriately brutal, remarkably tense piece of work even amid the source material’s by-the-books murder mystery framework, the film’s strongest suits become easily identifiable as true testaments to Fincher’s prowess as a visionary among those deemed less fortunate.

While not having seen the Swedish film in its entirety, I can only imagine that certain elements weren’t handled as deftly on account of this version’s flawless implementation of an equally flawless score to effectively set each and every mood as they wash over us in droves. As the plot inevitably thickens during the film’s admittedly most appealing second act, it’s quite surprising how utterly compelling the proceedings become given how mundane it all is on the surface. This aside, Fincher’s steady hand in nimbly splicing in relevant and simply stunning flashback sequences transform monotony into sheer entertainment as tension builds and builds right up until the expertly executed final reveal. All things considered, Dragon Tattoo eventually manages to falter as its final act ventures into the realm of the superfluous, incorporating what will appeal to fans of the novel while feeling a bit unnecessary to those captivated by the bulk of the proceedings.

By now, you’ve probably familiarized yourself with Miss Rooney Mara and the recognition she’s been receiving for her role as the troubled titular computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. As far as role committal goes, it’s easy to give credit where it’s due in acknowledging how captivating her performance is in nearly every regard, remaining in firm command of each and every scene even in the presence of her more recognizable male lead. While Craig’s efforts are noteworthy, Plummer and Skarsgard’s as well in light of their prolonged lack of presence, they simply can’t hold a candle to Mara given the cards her character’s dealt throughout the sometimes distressing events that take place.

Once again, Hollywood’s done a bang-up job in presenting us with an above average adaptation of a lackluster novel that’s been transformed into something spectacular by those behind and in front of the camera. Deftly blending his way with material of this type as the film remains brutal, gritty as such and wonderfully compelling regardless of the lackluster source material, David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is quite the year-end cinematic achievement. With a simply fantastic, presumably award-worthy performance from Rooney Mara and serviceable efforts across the board from the rest of the supporting cast, the proceedings never once cease to draw you in despite a questionable adherence to some narrative fat that could’ve been trimmed for consistency’s sake.

Rating: 8/10

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One comment on “Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

  1. CMrok93 says:

    It’s certainly worth seeing if you missed the original. If you saw it, however, there’s no way of unseeing it, and nothing in the new one to top it. Craig and Mara are great here though and Fincher brings so much more to this film like I was expecting too. Good review.

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