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Home | Film Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Film Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)


Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.


What the hell is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”? I have been asking myself that question for the last few years. I knew it was a trilogy of books turned into three foreign films and that the female lead had been cast in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus”. I was also aware that a U.S. remake was coming from director David Fincher. Maybe for some that was reason enough to become interested. For me, it was just another reason to shrug my shoulders. I don’t hate Fincher, I loved “Fight Club”, but I have never been able to connect with any of his other efforts (including “Seven”). The original trilogy of films was a huge international success. Fincher’s version received a lukewarm response opening weekend but eventually went on to gross more than $102million domestically. The film was also nominated for five academy awards (including a Best Actress nod for the films’ star Rooney Mara), taking home one for best editing. My only problem was that it felt so damn long. Actually, it was close to 2hrs and 40min so it was that damn long.

Note: You can find our review on the 2009 version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo here

I wasn’t going to go over the story since I figured everyone would already know it, but then I realized that I can’t be the only one that hasn’t followed along. The story follows disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to investigate a 40 year old murder of his niece Harriet. The entire incident has torn the family apart and he needs answers. Mikael enlists the aid of expert computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to help uncover the mystery. Lisbeth isn’t any ole hacker. She may be the best. She is a bit of a mystery herself who has many secrets of her own.

Craig and Mara are terrific and watching them together is pretty exciting. I couldn’t help but think that she would also make a terrific Bond girl. Stellan Skarsgard (who plays Martin) proves once again that he is one of modern cinemas’ greatest character actors. But it’s Mara’s Lisbeth that is the most intriguing character. A modern day avenger with a hidden past (that I will assume becomes clear in the other stories(?)). When pushed, she erupts into violence that catches you off guard. The story itself was solid enough but that character was really all I ended up caring about. The rest kind of drags and, while still entertaining, felt like a VERY LONG and drawn out episode of “Cold Case”.

Fincher was able to help us look past the stories shortcomings by creating an atmosphere with his usual dark eye. He also brought back his musical collaborator from “The Social Network” Trent Reznor along with Atticus Ross. This helps to set a spooky tone, when combined with the afore mentioned Fincher-isms, creates a world that is frightening and brutal. That’s exactly how some of this film is. Most notably, when Lisbeth gets her revenge on her rapist. It made me sore for the rest of the film, just because I couldn’t get that image out of my head.

I enjoyed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. I wasn’t floored by it and I doubt I would read the books but I am curious as to where Lisbeth goes from here. It isn’t even the story that interests me its’ Lisbeth Salander. She is just the type of troubled lead that I am drawn to. She is quirky, odd, and a little bit withdrawn. When she is crossed, you better watch out, she will make sure that the punishment fits the crime. The film is way too long and it drags quite often. The cast was terrific and the atmosphere that Fincher creates for them is addicting. I want to see where these characters go but I am debating on watching the original trilogy since I enjoyed these actors so much in these roles. I’m not sure I want to start all over again. ***1/2 (out of 5).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)


  1. I’m probably going to sound like a jerk, but as someone who has read all the books and seen all the movies, your review is frustrating to read. Not because you didn’t like the Fincher movie — that’s fine; we all have different opinions — but because right off the bat you indicate that you don’t really know much about the original trilogy of movies or books, and that you don’t really care.

    Furthermore, the review comes across like you felt you were missing something in the Fincher movie and not really sure what was going on. It’s hard to tell if that was because you weren’t paying enough attention or because you didn’t do any background research on Larsson’s books or the Swedish films. It’s a shame because the books and movies are all wonderful and Lisbeth Salander is one of the greatest — if not THE greatest — modern heroine(s). To watch the film without any background information is one thing, but to watch the film and then write a review without looking for any background information does Larsson’s books, as well as the character of Lisbeth Salander, a grave disservice.

  2. I’ll be the first to admit that I just couldn’t connect with the material. I REALLY liked the Lisbeth Salander character but couldn’t get into the story. I did no research going in, mainly as an experiment to watch the Fincher film without being influenced by the other sources. I just felt the character should have been involved in (or deserved) a more exciting story. As it stands, I didn’t find it all that interesting. I just wanted to learn more about her and the rest wasn’t that interesting to me. Maybe my experiment failed and I apologize. I just want to hear her story. I understood perfectly well what was happening, but much of the story was just not that interesting to me.


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