I’m not a fan of David Fincher’s remake. Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev’s original, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, kept me on the edge of my seat, despite the thoughtful build of character arcs. Tension and emotional depth charge were at the fore.
Noomi Rapace played Lizbeth Salander as a feral loner, armed, metaphoric claws at the ready, threatening to leap off the screen. Her volatile hyper vigilance made her seem more at risk, despite her remarkable warrior skills, and the audience worries about her.
Rooney Mara replaces Rapace’s claws and bristle with sullenness. Her fragile remove keeps the audience at a distance, and the film becomes more exercise than emotional investment.
As Lizbeth’s debauched guardian, renamed Holger Palmgren (Bengt C.W. Carlsson) does the job, but the original’s Peter Andersson as her guardian (Nils Bjurmana) is a far better villain to hate, hypnotic in the way he relishes his perverse role.
Daniel Craig’s too hunky, too focused as Mikael Blomkvist. Michael Nyqvist had a rumpled paternal quality which added a naughty frisson to his affair with Lisbeth. Both Tomas Köhler as Plague, Lizbeth’s nerd for hire and Lena Endre as Michael’s business partner/love Erika Berger, brought more nuances to their roles and Sven-Bertil Taube as villainous Henrik Vanger and Peter Haber, as Harriet’s twisted brother Martin Vanger made more of an impact.
The frosty beauty of Eric Kress’s cinematography was a welcome respite or an anodyne to the dark perversity of the story. Although the production values of the Fincher’s new version are glossy and expensive, they miss the bite of the Swedish TV series released on the big screen.
Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg screenplay for the original version is cleverer, and their crosscuts and flashbacks helped fill in emotional layers. Steven Zaillian’s smooths out the interesting subplots and keeps Lisbeth and Mikael’s stories separate for half of the film.
Lizbeth’s character seems to be sexually tamer. While the first version showed her as a curious bi-sexual experimenting with Bloomquist, in Zaillian’s version, she’s turned hetero by the end and, disappointed at the loss of her new lover, she rides off alone on her cycle. (In the original, we’re left hanging, wondering about her interesting new life, as we see her in a blond wig and post suit, transferring funds in a tropical Tax Haven.
All in all both the ferocity and the allure of the characters and of the story has been dulled. Stieg Larsson’s original story is strong enough to succeed with those who don’t know the original franchise. Alas, I’m not one of those.