Daniel Craig's 'Dragon Tattoo' receives positive reviews
Before it has opened in the USA (Dec 20, 2011) Daniel Craig's grey and gritty thriller, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is receiving positive reviews, with many comparing it favorably (or at least not noting its inferiority) to the Swedish production:
From the outset, it's unmistakably a Fincher film; the superlatively sharp visuals, the immaculate design, the innate knack for melding sound and music, the chill and menace evoked from both modern cities and open spaces, the beautiful people marked by deep scars and flaws -- all feel part of his habitual landscape.
-- The Hollywood Reporter
The film is gripping early on, when Lisbeth and Mikael are on their own. Once they team up, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" takes on a relentless though unhurried momentum as the two find links between the girl's disappearance and a series of murders of young women butchered in unspeakable ways.
Craig is an anchor of cool rationality and judiciousness around which Mara revolves like a demon. With her body piercings, black leather and hooded jackets that seem like her version of a mad monk's cowl, Lisbeth tears about icy Sweden on her motorcycle, wan, scrawny, scarier than any of the night creatures in Hollywood's glut of vampire movies.
She is horribly violated by a social worker appointed as her new guardian, a sickening scene balanced by Lisbeth's equally bestial act of vengeance. You perversely want to cheer Lisbeth for her triumph while bemoaning the world that made her such a pitiless creature.
The investigation hinges on old photographs from the day of Harriet's disappearance, and Fincher manipulates these enigmatic images with a frame-by-frame dexterity worthy of the Zapruder film. Slowly, we watch as the victim watches the killer come into view. Who in the Vanger clan committed an unspeakable crime? The family is presented as a parade of rogues, deviants, misanthropes, and even Nazis, but really, this stuff all seems a bit musty. What's fresh, in its ambiguity, is the creepy-elegant performance of Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd. He plays Harriet's brother, not to mention the Vanger descendant with by far the most spectacular kitchen â which, in a film this suspicious of old money, certainly targets him as someone to be watched. Many, of course, will go into the movie knowing just what happens. But even if you do, Fincher uses the resolution of the film's crimes as a chance to stage a torture scene that is memorable in its sick-puppy majesty. I will say outright that the closest Fincher comes to genius in this film is his use of Enya's "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" as a background aria of jaunty dread.
Mara is fearless in the lead role and Craig generously allows her to take centre stage, but as a result his Blomkvist lacks the grizzled gumption that made Michael Nyqvistâs performance in Oplevâs version so compelling.
Perhaps unavoidably, itâs the source material itself that trips the film up. The notorious scenes of graphic sexual abuse prove to be a major stumbling block: theyâre lurid and sweaty in a way thatâs tonally dischordant with the rest of the story, and the âsurprise villainâ is no more surprising here than in the Oplev film: the roleâs so unsubtle that the actor or actress might as well be wearing a pair of hen party devil horns and carrying a plastic pitchfork.
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