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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Year: 2011
Studio: Columbia
Director: David Fincher
Producer: Scott Rudin
Writer: Steve Zaillian/Stieg Larsson
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson

If you hate crème brulee and the world's greatest dessert chef comes along and offers to make it for you, it's not going to make any nicer than if a short order cook at a greasy spoon makes it.

The problem I thought I'd have (and did) with Fincher's vision of Larsson's mega-seller is that the story just doesn't grab me. After seeing the original Swedish version it struck me as being too trite, too in love with own powers of extreme plotting over cohesion. Nothing poor Fincher did could have won me over unless he and scriptwriter Steve Zaillian threw out Larsson's structure altogether, which would have resulted in a different movie.

I'm probably repeating myself from my review of Oplev's version, but Michael Blomkvist's (Craig) pursuit of the truth behind a 40 year old disappearance and Lisbeth Salander's (Mara) ordeal at the hands of a rapist social worker feel like they've been mashed up on YouTube from two completely different films until halfway through when they start working together.

From beginning to end, Fincher displays the same thing he did in The Social Network – workday directing and nothing more. The difference is that The Social Network had Aaron Sorkin's snare drum-tight dialogue and storytelling and some brilliant performances, including from Mara. In fact if you're seeing this film just for Fincher's unmatched handiwork, you can leave after the beautiful but all-too-brief opening credits sequence.

Disgraced reporter Blomkvist thinks helping an aging industrialist (Plummer) on a remote Swedish family-owned island solve the disappearance of his niece forty years before might get his mind off his troubles at work, where his story about an industry tycoon has been disproved in court and he stands to lose everything.

As he gets closer to the truth through rudimentary detective work the police apparently never thought to try, he asks for help from the woman who investigated his suitability for the job in the first place, antisocial and sullen young hacker Lisbeth.

The pair team up on the island where infighting is the order of the day along the family member residents, and the shocking truth is one you'll never guess... unless you've read the book, seen the original or seen any thriller over the last decade.

Zaillian gets props for not setting the story on some island on the windswept Massachusetts coast like most remakes of foreign hits do but leaving it in Sweden, but Sony and producer Scott Rudin take it away by apparently financing a third of the budget with prominent Apple product placement.

Come on David, get back to something original. Drop this silly 20,000 Leagues lark and give us another Zodiac.

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