The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011

Given the tagline “the feel bad movie of Christmas” in the film’s first trailer, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” certainly lives up to that reputation because it is a dark and violent film that unveils a story about murder and abuse.

Investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) finds himself forced to leave his position as publisher of Millennium magazine as a result of a controversial lawsuit. However, he travels to a private island in Northern Sweden when he is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of his niece Harriet 40 years ago by looking into his own family. In need of assistance, Mikael gets help from a computer hacker and damaged young woman named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).

Based on the first novel in the Millenium trilogy written by Steig Larsson, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is another great entry in director David Fincher’s filmography as it is a different and unique take on the story that does not take anything away from Niels Arden Oplev’s film and Noomi Rapace’s performance. Fincher brings his own tone and vision to the table as it shows evidence of that with the film’s opening title sequence. Fincher immediately sets the mood for the film with an S version of the James Bond title sequences except this one has sex, violence and melting rubber and it is set to the sounds of Trent Reznor’s and Karen O’s of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.

This film is more of a crime investigation movie in the vein of Fincher’s “Zodiac” and “Se7en” as Blomkvist and Salander investigate for the truth behind Harriet’s disappearance and several cold case murders of several young women that will lead them to a serial killer, which turns this movie into a murder mystery. When conclusions are drawn to who might be the killer, Fincher draws on his experience directing movies about serial killers in order to bring unbearable tension to Blomkvist’s showdown with the killer that also features the best use of a song by Enya in a movie. Fincher also manages to ensemble an amazing cast that brings Larrson’s characters to life with strong dramatic actors like Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard and Robin Wright sharing powerful and memorable scenes with Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig plays a more subtle role as Blomkvist as he shows a more vulnerable and calmer side of him unlike his turns in “Defiance” and the last two James Bond films, making it one of the best roles of his career.

However, it is Rooney Mara who steals the show and delivers one of the most impressive performances of the year as Lisbeth Salander. Mara looks more age appropriate for the role then Rapace was in the 2009 Swedish version, which it makes all the more shocking when acts of sexual abuse are inflicted on her by her cruel and sadistic parole officer, Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen). Mara was so dedicated to her role as Salander that she really got genuine piercings, cut her hair, bleached her eyebrows, learning how to ride a motorcycle and using a convincing Swedish accent. With some help from Fincher, Mara turns Salander into the ultimate badass and a force of nature that will make you regret getting on her bad side.

Reteaming with Fincher once again, the score of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is conducted by the Oscar winning team of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Reznor and Ross manage to create a perfect mix of ambience and techno sounds that it creates some unnerving tension and eeriness to every scene.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is David Fincher’s version of the first part of Stieg Larsson’s story that has a great cast that is anchored by an unbelievable performance from Rooney Mara and a haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

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