Cast: Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård), Frode (Steven Berkoff), Erika Berger (Robin Wright), Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), Anita Vanger (Joely Richardson), Cecilia (Geraldine James), Armansky (Goran Visnjic)
Director: David Fincher
Theatrical release: 12/20/2011 DVD Date: 03/20/2012
Rating: R Running Time: 158 minutes
Note(s): Adapted by Steven Zaillian from the novel Män som hatar kvinnor by Stieg Larsson.
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Review: Swedish crime novelist Stieg Larsson's 2004 thriller Män som hatar kvinnor — published as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the rest of the world, given that the literal translation of the book's title, "Men Who Hate Women", isn't all that appealing and not nearly as evocative — has enjoyed consider success. A Swedish-language film adaptation of the book was released in 2009, one that I enjoyed a great deal. (Read our review here.) Not long thereafter, Sony announced that it, too, was adapting the book, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the principal roles of Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander.
It's probably impossible not to watch the second film adaptation without comparing it to the first. The storylines are, of course, nearly identical and the setting is the same. The biggest difference is that Sony committed much more money to its version and it shows, with production values that far exceed those of the original. But its the murder mystery plot that I most enjoyed (again).
A lot of the marketing for the film focused on the character of Lisbeth Salander. Indeed, she is the girl in the title. Rooney Mara is excellent in the role, for which she earned a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. But I think too much attention is paid to her character — and to a lesser extent, the relationship she develops with Mikael Blomqvist — than on the story itself, which is a solidly plotted mystery. (For those that may have not yet read the book or seen the Swedish adaptation, wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger hires disgraced investigative journalist Blomqvist to find out what happened to his great-niece Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago, presumably murdered, presumably by someone in the extended family as the island on which they all live was temporarily cut off from the mainland when she vanished.)
At well over 2½ hours, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo runs a bit long. There are a few scenes that could easily have been shortened, and there are lots of characters who contribute little to the story yet are inserted for a minute or two anyway — not long enough to be red herrings, however sufficiently long to suggest that Blomqvist's investigation is more complicated than what we end up seeing — but overall it's a crisply directed film that moves along at a good pace. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the original, which seemed to me to tell the story better, focusing more on the murder mystery than on the characters, though I do recommend it.
(A minor quibble: I hated the opening credits, a high-tech, liquid image display of scenes more suited for some intergalactic futuristic thriller than this film. Worse, the overly loud cover of "The Immigrant Song" was particularly incongruous. It was fine for the teaser trailer — and wisely omitted from the theatrical trailer — but a really poor choice for the film itself.)
A final note: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is rated R and it's a hard R, for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language.