MOVIE REVIEW: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

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Film: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara
Directed By: David Fincher

Every year there is one or two movies that everyone looks forward to starting a lot earlier in the year. Usually it’s the new superhero movie or the next great masterpiece from a big name director. This year was a little different. One of the most anticipated films of the year certainly didn’t have a hero, at least not one you’d really want to look up to, and while it did have a famous director it certainly wasn’t a created by a repeat Oscar winner. No, this movie didn’t even have more than one well known actor in it. What it did have was a lot of buzz, a lot of promise, and a plot based on a very well written book. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had a chance to be something very amazing, and it did not disappoint. 

TGWTDT is based on an award winning Swedish novel of the same name that was released 2005. The plot revolves around Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, a 20 something hacker / investigator. The movie starts with these two on completely different paths, barely hinting at their paths crossing throughout the first hour or so of the film. Mikael is hired to solve a 40 year old murder case on an island inhabited by a family of very unpleasant and conniving rich people. Meanwhile Lisbeth is dealing with her own personal hell as what is essentially her court appointed guardian suffers a stroke and she is assigned a new one that abuses his power to a very disgusting and uncomfortable degree. Eventually Mikael and Lisbeth’s paths cross when she is hired to help him with the murder. It is then that they start to unravel a mystery that is far more disturbing and corrupt than either of them could have imagined.

As far as the film itself is concerned TGWTDT is a well crafted thriller that offers a dark view into a isolated, yet familiar, world filled with intriguing characters. Clocking in at 158 minutes long, TGWTDT still manages to leave you wanting much, much more. David Fincher didn’t set out to tell a story some were already familiar with and he made it his own. Every shot was well crafted and had purpose, every detail placed in just the right spot, every glance between characters doing more than just passing time between action scenes. Fincher reminded us all why he should be directing movies in the most honest way possible, by directing the hell out of TGWTDT at a level most filmmakers can only dream of. On top of all that he partnered with Trent Reznor once again to make a soundtrack that took an already great film to a whole new level. Every piece of music added so much more to the scenes, taking the mood deeper and deeper until you feel what the characters felt. Disturbing scenes suddenly make your skin crawl instead of just making you cringe. Reznor couldn’t have crafted a better score.

Perhaps the thing that helped TGWTDT the most was Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. For someone who’s name usually requires further explanation to garner any recognition she proved to the world that she’s ready for the big leagues of Hollywood. Every aspect of her character was pitch perfect, her dedication to the part deserves the utmost respect and is most certainly Oscar worthy. Her on screen chemistry with Daniel Craig was a great mix of caution and hopefulness while her scenes of vengeance were haunting and will leave you terrified to go anywhere near her if you saw her on the street.

Even if you’ve seen the original Swedish film and read the novels you will still be missing out if you don’t go see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This is not just another film thrown together for someone to make a buck on something that’s already popular, this is a film that will be on the high pantheon of thrillers for a long time to come.

Review written by: Justin Proper (Follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Isnt daniel craig a well known actor?

  • “more than one well known actor” read better nick. 

  • thanks JP. I was ready for a full on suck fest. All too often I get left disappointed in a movie when it’s “remade” for Americans. I will try to squeeze this in…maybe even take Jerod along!

  • I doubt you’ll be disappointed. 

  • Grace

    I’d also argue that Christopher Plummer and Stellan Skarsgard are well-known actors. I disagree with certain other points, cos while this film was really good it wasn’t amazing. Something really tangible was missing, and further Mara was (to me) as blank and disengaged as she was in The Social Network (for all her 10 minutes of screentime in the latter). But then again, my brother, who saw this with me, loved it, so maybe it’s just that I had a different image in my head from the book. Daniel Craig was perfect as Blomkvist however.