The mere idea of a “Hollywood Remake” of anything remotely good in the first place always makes me roll my eyes and bring a tiny bit of sick to my throat. This one was, however, different. Despite having seen and enjoyed the Swedish language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I thought a re-make – or re-imagining as this one has been labelled – could be a really special film, especially with director David Fincher (Fight Club,Seven, The Social Network etc) and writer Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Mission Impossible And Gangs Of New York) at the helm.
However, what we actually get is pretty much the same film. In fact it was so similar that I found myself wondering whether I was actually watching the same film, it is a pretty much shot-for-shot remake. Coming from a director renowned for his visual style and craft this really surprised me. Of course it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Daniel Craig as Michaél Blomkvist – a discredited journalist researching a 40 year old case of a missing person – or even Rooney Mara as the eponymous Lisbeth Salander – a surly hacker who joins him – it just means that I’m surprised that with such a talented team behind the film that they barely brought anything new to the table.
The one thing that did stick out as being entirely new is the score. Trent Reznor (from the rock band Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross have yet again captured the mood of a Fincher film perfectly. Last year they managed to enhance The Social Network‘s hacking scenes into something to marvel at whilst taking movie scores firmly into the 21st century with their astounding techno ambience. Here they do the same again and capture the gritty and dirty plot and at the same time perfectly capturing the history and poignancy associated with it. Here I think finally the film does differ somewhat from the Swedish film, that film seemed to somehow become very forgettable because essentially all it was was a mystery, the characters seem to have a little more depth, and the end far more poignancy. It is entirely possible that it has the exact same ending as the other version but I feel like this end had a little more ring to it.
The mystery is as engaging and thrilling as it was first time round (and enough time has passed for me to not quite remember the denouément until it reared its head) and the performances by everyone were terrific; especially Daniel Craig who seems more comfortable in this slightly gritty realm of reality than the sometimes cartoonish Bond world. Although I think Rooney Mara is an excellent Lisbeth Salander I can’t help but note that she does seem to be playing the character in almost exactly the same way as Noomi Rapace did in the Swedish version, but then she did it excellently, so why complain?
In a way The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo leaves me unsure of whether to call it a success or just a carbon copy translated into English. For the vast majority of the film it is pretty much identical but the original is the sort of film that does need watching twice, so why not watch the new one with better music and a better ending?
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