“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” blazes

By Conor Murphy


Courtesy of MCT

David Fincher’s American adaptation of the Swedish crime-thriller movie and novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” shines with expert pacing, which helps it surpass the original film.

The film opens when disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig) receives a phone call from captain of industry Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) regarding a curious job prospect. Vanger reveals to Blomkvist that the job consists of continuing on with the 40-year investigation of his niece’s disappearance. From a seemingly unrelated location, the audience is also introduced to Lisbeth Salander, who is played brilliantly by newcomer Rooney Mara. Salander is a punky computer hacker who works as a consultant at a security firm. She is asked to do a background check on Blomkvist for Vanger, which is how she learns of the murder mystery. Underlying plotlines also detail Salander’s struggle with a sexually abusive legal guardian.

About halfway through the film, Blomkvist and Salander are introduced when the newly appointed investigator decides that he needs a research assistant to help investigate the case. The film’s pace quickens from this point and all of the puzzle pieces of the murder begin falling into place. Like the book, the film completely absorbs the viewer and becomes impossible to turn away from.

Another quality of the film that makes it impossible to stop watching is the gorgeous cinematography. Fincher uses state-of-the-art digital cameras to provide crisp, clear images and lighting. ”Dragon Tattoo” offers one of the most stunning and visually arresting opening title sequences ever to be seen. It is a breathtaking sequence in which Karen O’s cover of “Immigrant Song” blares over images of human figures that appear to be doused in gasoline, car parts being assembled and insects springing to life from various objects. This strange sequence of events can only foreshadow the uncommon and horrific incidents that take place throughout the film’s plotline.

Soundtrack producers and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross teamed up again (both worked on “The Social Network”) to create a score that can best be described as moody and dark. It is certainly not the traditional movie score as many of the tracks seem to rely on sounds rather than classical musical instruments. The music is used in a way that makes the two and a half hour film flow smoothly.

In terms of acting, Mara steals the show in what will surely become known as her career-defining performance. Mara is barely recognizable from her previous work with Fincher in “The Social Network” where she played Erica Albright, the Boston University student who breaks up with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg in the film’s opening scene. Daniel Craig turns in a great performance as Blomkvist, but leaves breathing room for Mara as the lead. Christopher Plummer is, as usual, wonderful to watch and plays one of the only morally in-line characters in the film. Yorick van Wageningen is extremely convincing and chilling as Salander’s abusive guardian. Mara and Wageningen handle the assault scenes so professionally and realistically that they are difficult to watch. All in all, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” proves to be a fantastic, can’t-miss film that succeeds on just about every level.

Conor Murphy can be reached at [email protected]