Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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David Fincher directs this 2011 thriller inspired by the late author Stieg Larsson's successful trilogy of books. Daniel Craig stars as discredited journalist Mikael Blomkvist while Rooney Mara stars as computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Together they set out to solve a 40-year-old mystery in taking on the case of Harriet Vanger. In the beginning of the film, the two are briefed by victim's uncle, who suspects she may have been killed by a member of their own family.
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Movie Review: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Rating: R (For brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language)
Length: 158 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Directed by: David Fincher
Genre: Crime/Drama/Mystery
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer
Stars: 4 out of 5

Based on a Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is a story that follows a discredited journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he begins an investigation into the disappearance and possible murder of a wealthy patriarch's niece that occurred nearly 40 years earlier. He hires Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a punky computer hacker, to help him uncover corruption and deceit in the investigation. Together, they find more trouble than they could have realized there would be, and they work together to solve the case. This movie is rate R for violence, which includes rape and torture, so it is best for adult audiences only.

The film is intensely driven by dialog, so it is best for those who enjoy wordy films. Staged in Sweden, the film is able to give gorgeous scenery and unique visuals that make it enjoyable. The movie follows the book and its sister film (foreign and in Swedish), so it is accurate enough for novel-purists to enjoy.

The director, David Fincher, created unique and beautiful imagery throughout the movie, from sweeping views of the winter and snow-covered Sweden to the interiors of homes and locations. Even during some of the more disturbing sequences, such as Lisbeth's rape, the director has masterfully created the scene without lingering, embellishing, or dwelling. The scenes are sometimes raw, but realistic.
A character-driven story, this version of the film has a perfect balance of actors who interact masterfully. The relationship between Lisbeth and Mikeal is touching and powerful, and Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are convincing in their roles. The two play their characters so well that you could not imagine anyone else in their roles.

Even if you have no knowledge of the novel, this film covers all of the most important sections of the literature, making it easy for a new audience to understand. Characters are strongly developed and three-dimensional. For example, Lisbeth is developed from a punky girl into one who is violent, angry, sexual, demanding, and genius. She has reasons for all of her actions, no matter how violent or gruesome, and as the movie goes on, you can come to understand and relate to the character.

This film is a gritty, white-knuckle-making release. It is not a feel-good film, and it is not for the squeamish. This is a movie experience that is sure to leave viewers feeling satisfied at the end, with all of the film wrapping up nicely without major cliffhangers or questions.

Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara embody the characters well in this film. The two develop a relationship that is not two-dimensional like so many other films. There is a long development of Lisbeth's relationship with Mikael, and there is even a twist at the end that may leave viewers a bit unhappy or let down, although it is necessary to the storyline of the movie.

When it is compared with the Swedish movie and cast, as well as the novel, the American movie by David Fincher is nothing but a successful remake with interesting characters and a well-developed plot. It has beautiful sequences and rough scenes that make for an interesting story. He masterfully combines the elements in the novel to create a movie with just enough mystery and drama to keep audiences engaged without being overcome by the raw material and violence.