Girl With the Dragon Tattoo | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 

This thriller is kind of a drag

Pin It
click to enlarge The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The riveting, propulsive opening credits of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo conveys everything that director David Fincher could bring to the English-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s uber-best-seller.

Most of the rest of the film, unfortunately, reminds us of all the stuff he can’t change.

The centerpiece remains the crossed paths of two radically different characters: Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), a Swedish journalist disgraced after a successful libel suit against him; and Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), the enigmatic, bisexual, pierced-and-tattooed computer hacker. And the plot remains Mikael’s convoluted investigation—hired by aging industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer)—into the long-ago disappearance of Vanger’s beloved niece, exposing the dark Vanger family secrets.

Superficially, the material feels like a good fit for Fincher, evoking the menace and human corruption of Seven. From grim darkness to white-blasted winter landscapes, there’s an impressive visual style at work, and Fincher’s mastery of pacing had me gripping my armrests during crucial scenes—this despite knowing from the Swedish film version exactly what to expect.

But structurally, Dragon Tattoo is a plot-heavy potboiler, a tale in which long stretches consist of Blomkvist conducting expository interviews with one or another member of the Vanger family, occasionally punctuated by sex scenes (both consensual and decidedly, brutally, non-consensual). Steven Zaillian’s script may soften up Lisbeth’s character a touch—Mara’s performance is solid, though a bit of a step down from Noomi Rapace’s indelible portrayal—but otherwise remains meticulously faithful to the plot machinations. And that means a 20-minute denouement that loses all the momentum from the intense climax.

Larsson’s Millennium trilogy deserves credit for introducing an iconic pop-culture character, but The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo demands that you slog through 150 minutes for the doses of Lisbeth Salander that it parcels out. Fincher can only bring so much auteur flair to such a shaky foundation.


click to enlarge 2_5_stars.gif

Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
Rated R

Pin It


More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Morality Play

    Romanian drama Graduation digs into a flexible sense of ethics.
    • Apr 26, 2017
  • Gray Area

    A great filmmaker shows off his non-showy stuff in The Lost City of Z.
    • Apr 19, 2017
  • Kid Stuff

    A lovely child performance anchors the satisfying family drama of Gifted.
    • Apr 12, 2017
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep-dive into the way movies portray one half of humanity.
    • May 11, 2016
  • Beasts of One Notion

    Zootopia depends entirely on its well-intentioned allegory about prejudice.
    • Mar 2, 2016

© 2017 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation