Last month I had attempted to read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to prepare myself for this film, which judging by the trailer looked like one hell of a ride. After my wife informed me that the story stretched over 3 books, I felt a little overwhelmed and aborted the mission 100 pages in because I was just frankly swamped with too much else to do. SO ANYWAY, the following is a straight review of the film without any sort of context to the Swedish film (I haven’t seen) or the books.
The film opens as Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is convicted of libel against Hans-Erik Wennerström, the head of a financial conglomerate stemming from an accusatory article he had written for the magazine he publishes with his mistress (Robin Wright). As Mikael begins to sort through his options, he is approached by Henrik Vanger – the former CEO of Vanger Industries, a large and successful company that was instrumental in building the modern Swedish infrastructure. After Mikael is summoned to a tiny remote town situated on an island, he is hired to assemble a biography on Vangar which is a ruse to simply solve the mystery of his niece Harriet’s murder in the 1960’s. In return, Mikael will receive a boat load of money and enough evidence against Wennerström to prove that he is, in fact a filthy lying crook.
As Mikael moves to the island to conduct his investigation, he quickly uncovers a possible serial killer who has been taking the lives of women all over Europe. Unbeknownst to Mikael, Vanger had hired a background investigation on him which was executed by Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a biker/hacker/bad ass/punk rock girl with piercings and tattoos everywhere. As Lisbeth has been deemed clinically insane by the state of Sweden, she remains stuck under the guardianship of a crooked government employee who sexually abuses her. Mikael convinces Lisbeth to join his investigation as they attempt to uncover a grisly murder mystery surrounded by an extremely dysfunctional Vanger family.
Directed by David Fincher, this film follows in the footsteps of his previous outings such as Zodiac and The Social Network with dazzling style and a brooding aura that surrounds the entire story. While the plot boils down to a good old fashioned murder mystery, Mara’s casting as the titular character is nothing short of impeccable. Daniel Craig seamlessly transcends his biggest role as James Bond and captures the spirit of a desperate journalist while Mara dominates the entire film with sheer intensity and masochistic spunk. Topping it all off is a maddening score by Trent Reznor that pounds the senses silly and slinks through each scene with impending doom and destruction. To put it simply, this film ranks with Drive as the best thriller I’ve seen all year.
5 stars out of 5