December 27, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

NO COMMENT: As he is exiting the courtroom, Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig, center) is besieged by reporters seeking a statement from him about the trial in which he lost the libel case against a powerful billionaire Ulf Friberg.

Fincher Makes First-Rate Adaptation of Swedish Mystery Novel

Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) resigns in disgrace from his position as the editor of Millennium Magazine after being unable to substantiate in court the allegations he’d made about a corrupt billionaire (Ulf Friberg). Fortuitously, the disgraced journalist is secretly approached by an intermediary representing recently retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who wants Mikael to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his beloved niece, Harriet (Moa Garpendal), in 1966.

Mikael accepts the offer in order to escape the media circus surrounding him in Stockholm because the investigation of the case will be based at the family’s secluded estate where the niece had disappeared. An additional incentive is Henrik’s promise to provide the proof necessary to overturn Mikael’s libel conviction.

So he moves up to the remote island of Hedestad in northern Sweden and starts sifting through boxes of 40-year-old evidence. After unearthing an array of sordid skeletons in the Vanger family closet ranging from anti-Semitism to sadomasochism, he realizes that he needs help, and takes Henrik’s suggestion that he collaborate with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an eccentric and brilliant computer expert.

Mikael is willing to overlook the young hacker’s tattoos, piercings, and hairstyle because her computer skills complement Henrik’s interviews of surviving witnesses. However, as they close in on solving the mystery they find that both of their lives are threatened.

So unfolds The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a remake of the Swedish language movie of the same name that was released in 2009. Directed by David Fincher (The Social Network) the English version is actually a rarity because it is an improvement over the original film.

Both movies are based on the first book of the trilogy of novels by the late Stieg Larsson, and Sony Pictures has already committed to adapting the other two books to the screen. In the movie reviewed here, Rooney Mara is riveting as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig disappears into his role as Mikael so well that you forget that he has portrayed James Bond in the past.

Excellent (****). Rated R for rape, torture, brutal violence, profanity, nudity, and graphic sexuality. Running time: 158 minutes. Distributor: Columbia Pictures.