Having sat through the original a few years ago, the prospect of seeing the Hollywood remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo — clocking in at over 2.5 hours — did not exactly fill me with keen anticipation. When you're dealing in pulp, it pays to get an exercise in cinematic junk food such as this over likity-split! Heck, I could read the CliffsNotes version of War and Peace in half the time. Sorry, Leo....
To his credit, director David Fincher — fresh off his wildly successful helming of The Social Network — creates one of the sleekest, quickest-cutting styles in modern cinema. The surface is always attractive, from shot choices to soundtrack (done again by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor), but in terms of maintaining audience interest in an impossibly convoluted plotline, well, that's another matter altogether.
For the record, I saw a senior-discount matinee of Dragon Tattoo, and was easily as confused — if not more so — than the legions of elders who will watch virtually anything for $4.50, and who whispered among themselves throughout the picture wondering what in heaven's name was going on! Not only that, they were subjected to scenes of rape and torture that were highly unsettling to say the least. This is not a family picture — unless your last name happens to be Addams.
The plot concerns a wealthy industrialist whose favorite great-niece disappeared many decades earlier. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (an impassive and boring Daniel Craig) takes on the assignment of investigating the possible murder and hires the pierced-and-tattooed Lisbeth Salander (played to chilling effect by Rooney Mara) as his computer-savvy assistant. She brings her own salacious baggage to the story as victim of a predatory lawyer's sadistic sexual blackmail. All else aside, her sexy, monosyllabic punk posturings are compelling to watch.
But Ms. Mara's scowling portrait of a tough young woman isn't quite enough grist for the narrative mill. By the time I'd figured out who was who and which member of the industrialist's family was a psychopathic, Nazi-sympathizing serial killer (whew!), I was content to let the picture play out without much caring about the resolution. Speaking of War and Peace, I could have used a genealogical flow-chart to distinguish between the all of the Henriks and the Haralds. Very confusing indeed.
War Horse and We Bought a Zoo were playing down the multiplex hallway and might have proven more satisfying. Though I'm not a big fan of such feel-good fare, Dragon Tattoo proved to be a pointless exercise in the scabrous and sensational. Sometimes a genial, well-told tale is far more effective than an E-ticket ride through fire and brimstone.