Tiny as a sparrow, fierce as an eagle, Lisbeth Salander is one of the great Scandinavian avengers of our time, a great angry bird catapulting into the fortresses of power and wiping smiles off the faces of smug, predatory pigs. The animating force in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy – incarnated on screen first by Noomi Rapace as well as also today, in David Fincher’s adaptation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” by Rooney Mara – Lisbeth is an outlaw feminist fantasy-heroine, and a great avatar of digital antiauthoritarianism.
Her appeal arises from a mixture of vulnerability and ruthless competence. Lisbeth can hack any kind of kind of machine, crack any type of code and, when required, mete out righteous punitive violence, but she is also (to an extent fully revealed in next episodes) a lost and abused child. And Ms. Mara captures her volatile as well as fascinating essence beautifully. Hurt, fury also as calculation play on her pierced and shadowed face. The black bangs across her forehead are as sharp and severe as an obsidian blade, but her eyebrows tend to be as downy and pale as a baby’s. Lisbeth inspires fear as well as awe also as also – on the part of Larsson and his fictional alter ego, the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played in Mr. Fincher’s film by Daniel Craig) – a measure of chivalrous protectiveness.
She is a great pop-culture character, stranger and more complex than the average superhero also as more intriguing than the usual boy wizards and vampire brides. It has been her fate, unfortunately, to make her furious, inspiring method through a series of plodding and ungainly stories.
The Swedish screen version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” directed by Niels Arden Oplev, usually felt like the really lengthy pilot episode of a television crime show, partly due to the fact of Larsson’s heavy-footed clumsiness as a storyteller. Despite the slick intensity of Mr. Fincher’s fashion, his film is certainly not resistant to the exact same lumbering proceduralism. There are waves of brilliantly orchestrated anxiety and confusion however also extended stretches of drab, hackneyed exposition that flatten the atmosphere. We might be watching “Cold Case” or perhaps perhaps “Criminal Minds,” however with more effective sound design as well as more expressive visual techniques. Hold the breath, it’s a time for a high-speed Internet look! Listen closely, because the chief bad guy is regarding to explain everything right before he kills you!
It have to be said that Mr. Fincher and also the screenwriter, Steven Zaillian, manage to hold on to the vivid and passionate essence of the book while remaining true enough to its busy plot to prevent literal-minded readers from rioting. (There are a really few significant changes, however these show just how arbitrary a couple of Larsson’s narrative contrivances were in the first put.) Utilizing harsh and also also spooky soundtrack music (by Trent Reznor also as Atticus Ross) to unnerving also as powerful effect, Mr. Fincher creates a persuasive ambience of political menace and moral despair.
He has always excelled at evoking invisible, nonspecific terrors lurking just beyond the realm of the visible. The San Francisco of “Zodiac” was haunted certainly not and so a great deal by an elusive serial killer as by a spectral principle of violence that has been everywhere and nowhere, a sign of the times and also also an element of the climate. And the Harvard of “The Social Network,” with its darkened wood and moody brick, seemed less a protect of gentlemen and scholars than a seething hive of paranoia and also also alienation.
Mr. Fincher honors Larsson’s muckraking legacy by envisioning a Sweden that is corrupt definitely not only in its ruling institutions however in the depths of its soul. Lisbeth too as Mikael – whose first meeting comes around the midpoint of the videos 158-minutes – swim in a sea of rottenness. They are definitely not quite the only decent individuals in the country, however their enemies tend to be thus many, as well as so powerful and so deeply entrenched that the odds of conquering them seem overwhelming.
Mikael, his career in ruins and his gadfly magazine in jeopardy after a libel judgment, is hired by a rich industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), to investigate a decades-old crime. Dysfunction would definitely definitely be a step up for the Vanger clan, whom live on a secluded island as well as whose family tree includes Nazis, rapists, alcoholics, murderers and, simply to avoid we from getting the incorrect impression, Stellan Skarsgard, the very epitome of Nordic nastiness.
The Vangers are monstrous, with a very few exceptions, but far from anomalous. The gruesome pattern of criminality that Lisbeth and also also Mikael uncover is a manifestation of general evil that spreads throughout the upper echelons of the countrys economy as well as government. The bad apples in that family tend to be simply one face of the cruel, misogynist ruling order that also includes Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), the sadistic state bureaucrat who is Lisbeth’s legal guardian. And everywhere she as well as Mikael turn there tend to be more bullying, unprincipled and also abusive men.
Sexual violence is a lurid thread running through “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” and Mr. Fincher approaches it with queasy, teasing sensationalism. Lisbeth’s dealings with Bjurman include a vicious rape and a correspondingly brutal act of revenge, and also there is something prurient and salacious regarding the way the initial attack is filmed. The vengeance, whilst graphical, is visually more circumspect.
As well as also whenever Mikael and Lisbeth interrupt their sleuthing for a bit of nonviolent sex, we see all of Ms. Mara and also very a bit less of Mr. Craig, whose naked torso is by now a great eyeful of old news. This disparity is well conventional – the exploitation of female nudity is a great axiom of modern cinema – however it also represents a failure of nerve along with a betrayal of the intimate egalitarianism Lisbeth Salander argues for and represents.
Nevertheless, it is her movie, and also Ms. Mara’s. Mr. Craig is an obliging sidekick, and the other supporting stars (notably Robin Wright as Mikael’s colleague as well as also paramour as well as also Donald Sumpter as a helpful detective) perform with professionalism as well as also conviction. Mr. Fincher’s impressive skill is obvious, even as his dreams appear to be checked by the limitations of the source material and the imperatives of commercial entertainment.
There is too a great deal information as well as definitely not enough understanding, and also also local puzzles that get in the way of larger mysteries. The story starts to fade as soon as the end credits run. However it is much harder to shake the lingering, troubling memory of an angry, elusive as well as curiously magnetic young girl who belongs thus completely to this cynical, cybernetic and also also chaotic world without having having ever seeming to be at home in it.
Directed by David Fincher; written by Steven Zaillian, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; movie director of photography, Jeff Cronenweth; edited by Kirk Baxter as well as Angus Wall; music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross; production design by Donald Graham Burt; costumes by Trish Summerville; produced by Scott Rudin, Ole Sondberg, Soren Staermose and Cean Chaffin; released by Columbia Photos and also Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 38 minutes.
WITH: Daniel Craig (Mikael Blomkvist), Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander), Christopher Plummer (Henrik Vanger), Stellan Skarsgard (Martin Vanger), Steven Berkoff (Frode), Robin Wright (Erika Berger), Yorick van Wageningen (Bjurman), Joely Richardson (Anita Vanger), Geraldine James (Cecilia), Goran Visnjic (Armansky), Donald Sumpter (Detective Morell) and Ulf Friberg (Wennerstrom).