The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

You KNEW I'd be a hard sell on this American retread, but the word "gratuitous" quickly came to mind. I'll be the first to acknowledge that David Fincher ("Zodiac") is a brilliant director, but when a book is already universally known and the original movie is effectively done, why pad a perfectly adequate story with blatant foreshadowing, gratuitous characters and unnecessary violence? This thing runs for 158 minutes and inserts new scenes that are inconsistent with Stieg Larsson's iconic originals!

My defense shields came up during the over-wrought title sequence, but they came down a bit when the film actually began because I AM fond of the story. It has interesting characters, plenty of action, and a plot that is just complicated enough to keep us engaged. After all, how many stories involve a 40-year-old murder?

Let's start with the cast:
  • Daniel Craig ("Defiance"), it took courage to accept a role when the standard has already been set by Michael Nyqvist. Craig's work already stands alone: He is a terrific James Bond and has enjoyed wide-ranging roles over an impressive number of years. Here, his journalist, Mikael Blomkvist is hired by an industrialist to investigate the death/disappearance of his beloved niece 40 years ago. We love Craig, so we won't hold this against him.
  • Rooney Mara ("The Social Network") was determined to make this work. She got piercings, worked out and shaved off her eyebrows. THAT should prove her dedication to her art! Taking over the iconic role of social misfit Liz Salander from Noomie Rapace took guts, and it's clear that she did exactly as Fincher directed her to do. ...sigh....
  • Christopher Plummer ("Beginners") has the aristocratic panache necessary to portray an elderly industrialist. His wry descriptions of his relatives bring humor to a pretty desolate picture of the dysfunctional Vanger family.
  • Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd ("Thor") is a prominent member of that dysfunctional family....
  • Robin Wright ("The Conspirator") is perfect as Erika Berger, Mikael's long-time (married) lover and co-publisher of their Millennium magazine.
It's a sad commentary that this movie is even necessary. Are Americans so illiterate that we can't even manage to read captions? Are we so jaded that we must have an already action-filled story ramped up to this degree? With an R rating, expect nudity, rape, violence, and blowie uppie stuff.

Now let me try to be fair: I'm going to guess that "...Tattoo" virgins, who haven't a clue what to expect, will be thrilled and surprised. They will never guess that a much better version exists. I guess that's why this was made in the first place, huh? Well, who am I to say....?

Just let me do some editing, okay? Please?
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This preview runs 3.5 minutes:
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