As we should’ve all gathered about now, remakes and second adaptations from another film/novel have proved themselves as massive gambles that have become either a huge success (e.g. The Departed, King Kong, Scarface) or a huge disappointment (Psycho, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Planet Of The Apes). Although the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was released in 2009, the idea of a second film adaptation but in English after only two years was a rather unorthodox and unusual one as it ultimately became quite a shock. However, when it came to our attention that David Fincher was selected as director, the anticipation to watch it began to build and expectations were high. Amazingly, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo overcame all obstacles and made itself worthy as one of the best films of 2011 and re-lives the brilliance of the 2009 Swedish version.
There are certain arguments debating about whether this English language version is even a remake at all due to opposing languages with different actors and crew members despite being a second adaptation. Nevertheless, from a personal perspective, this version is not a remake of the 2009 Swedish film but it is re-living the source of both films and it takes you to yet another different level. In addition, this version has perhaps enhanced its viewers to watch the other adaptation to gain an understanding and an outlook of what to expect in this one, although it’s not really essential which one you select to watch first because they mutually provide the exact same emotional feelings from one another.
During the early stages of his career, David Fincher has provided us with many dark thrillers that include Alien 3, Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room and Zodiac, but has provided us with other fantastic dramas The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and The Social Network. However, as far as this is concerned, it is the exact film that only Fincher could pull off (in English language, at least) due to the fact that he simply ventured back to the drama and thriller genres that he has been famously recognised for and has merged them together, which is what we have with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Actually, his attention to detail is a very similar style to what the late Stanley Kubrick did in the past. Fincher provides us with a film that somehow manages to not take all of the credit from Niels Arden Oplev, director of the Swedish version, and all the other crew members as the English language version pulls off the exact concepts that we saw previously. Screenwriter Steve Zaillian has worked alongside directors from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese where he has written some of the most creative and extremely powerful scripts of the past 20 years. After already co-writing 2011 film Moneyball, he works alongside David Fincher as he somehow improvises and, like Fincher, doesn’t necessarily steal any of the aspects in the previous version. In fact, it wasn’t Fincher and Zaillian adjusting the story and its concepts to fit in with its target audience, it was altering the actors and crew members into the Scandinavian neighbourhood and feeling like a re-birth of the book.
Quite honestly, to be able to come close or to even surpass Noomi Rapace’s outstanding performance as Lisbeth Salander would be a very difficult task for any actress to be able to pull off, especially in a different language. Out of the numerous number of candidates for the role, Rooney Mara (who had previously worked with Fincher in The Social Network) gives a performance that fits almost every specific aspect of Rapace’s Salander that literally makes Mara’s role neither worse nor better than Rapace’s. Mara adds one very slight adjustment to Lisbeth Salander’s character that Rapace didn’t: a sense of innocence. Noomi Rapace was a slightly darker Salander but they were both equally as fantastic as each other. Mara rightfully deserves an Academy Award nomination for Best Leading Actress and if she does receive one, it will perhaps justify Noomi Rapace not receiving one seeing as she was robbed.
Alongside Daniel Craig, fellow actors Viggo Mortensen, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp were battling it out for the leading role of Mikael Blomkvist, and as good as the other actors would have been in the role, Craig provides a role that is only for him (in the English language, of course) but isn’t quite an Oscar worthy performance. We all recognise him as James Bond now and personal thoughts about him being in this film were mixed to begin with and he actually became a surprise as he provides an equally sensational performance as Michael Nyqvist in the role of Blomkvist. Although Max Von Sydow, a famous Swedish Hollywood actor, was the favourite to star in the film as Henrik Vanger, veteran actor Christopher Plummer replaced him and provides another brilliant performance! Plummer illustrates perfectly the lonely, depressed and rather desperate grandfather that Henrik really is. Stellan Skarsgård, who has portrayed good supporting heroes and villains over the years, makes his mark and gives a performance to remember as well. There are other brief appearances from other actors Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson and Embeth Davidtz also.
Overall, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo became both a huge surprise yet at the same time became something that was rather expected from Fincher as this English language version is neither better nor worse than the Swedish version. Also, there are a few twists and turns that we didn’t see before, so there are a few minor surprises in store. After how this turned out despite the rather crazy idea to begin with and they could not get any better than this one, the other two sequels in the trilogy don’t necessarily have to be made. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has become yet another triumph for David Fincher featuring filmmaking at its finest, fantastic performances (especially from Mara) and an innovative script that would make the late author Stieg Larsson proud.