Perhaps saturation point has been reached: I’ve read the book (and its sequels) and seen the Swedish movies (and its sequels) and I very much enjoyed them. Although I did think the Swedish movies were a little inconsistent, perhaps I was more forgiving of them because they were low budget Swedish productions and not “Hollywood”.
It’s easy to become a bit snobbish about remakes and I’m certainly no exception. It’s also easy and perhaps a little lazy to think that the only reason a remake is made is to somehow dumb down the original, particularly when the remake is one that turns a foreign language movie into an English speaking version: as if people really will not consider watching a film that has subtitles: perhaps they do?!
I had a lazily snobbish attitude when I heard that a US remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was going into production. It was tempered by the attachment of David Fincher as Director and Daniel Craig as, in my mind, a much more suitable Blomkvist. The stills showing Rooney Mara, in an unenviable position of trying to fill Noomi Rapace’s shoes, as Lisbeth Salander added intrigue. And the excellent posters and the trailer (although almost showing the whole movie condensed into 2 raucous minutes) and the Trent Reznor/Karen O re-working of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song made me start to believe this could actually surpass the Swedish version.
I considered that although the film may not hold as much suspense for me, it was almost guaranteed to be a technically better made movie that would look all of its alleged $90 million budget. Alas, although perhaps technically better the experience left me cold.
The first thing that struck me as a little odd was the opening titles which actually turned out to be the most energetic and adrenalin fuelled part of the whole movie. Unfortunately, after that high-octane beginning the movie developed into a slow paced, uninvolving dirge with little to nothing going for it.
The movie remained set in Sweden, but the random use of accents by the actors became a massive distraction. Some actors appeared to be attempting Scandinavian accents (some more successful than others) whilst others didn’t. The “random acts of Swedish” even extended to written word whereby some newspapers were in Swedish, yet Blomkvist’s post-it notes weren’t and there were other inconsistencies. I couldn’t help but think that had they relocated the whole story to the US and done away with this nonsense it might have held up better.
The lethargic pace is matched by a lethargic central performance from Daniel Craig. Although, to me, he represents a truer vision of how I imagined Blomkvist to be in the books (one of the Swedish movie version major downfalls), he really phoned in this performance: unless his intention was to show Blomkvist as a bit bored by the whole thing. It ruined any chemistry there may have been between Blomkvist and Salander and I really feel for Rooney Mara, as she seemed to be the only one immersed in her role and she deserved better than this. Only Mara comes out with any credit and, unfortunately for her, Rapace is so identifiable with the role Mara may not get the credit she deserves (although I see now she has been nominated for a Golden Globe).
There was no suspense and no identification with the process of investigation that, even when already knowing the twists and turns, the Swedish version did so well.
Somehow Fincher, scriptwriter Steven Zaillian and a potentially impressive ensemble cast managed to turn one of the most successful and critically acclaimed novels in recent history into an overlong bore.
And, of course, there are two more yet to come…
My Rating: 1/5