‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is a thing of beauty

Rooney Mara in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'
Rooney Mara in ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

Director David Fincher (The Social Network and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) seems to focus on unconventional films and he’s hit the motherlode here.

Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who thought he’d uncovered evidence that a major mogul Ulf Friberg’s “Wennerstrom” was dirty.  The only problem was that Blomkvist was sued for libel by Wennerstrom and Blomkvist lost the case and most of his life’s savings.

Meanwhile, Christopher Plummer’s Henrik Vanger wants to hire Blomkvist to ostensibly pen his memoirs regarding his stewardship of the family’s large but shrinking business.  But that’s the cover.  The real story is that Vanger wants Blomkvist to unravel the threads of a 40 year old mystery involving Vanger’s family.  In return, if he’s successful or not in solving the mystery, Vanger promises to give Blomkvist the information he needs to sink Wennerstrom once and for all.

Daniel Craig stars in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'
Daniel Craig stars in ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

Craig is very good in getting away from his recent James Bond portrayals and giving a believable, human element to Blomkvist who is a very good investigative journalist as well as a fine detective (the two often go hand in hand).

Meanwhile, before hiring Blomkvist, Vanger’s corporate lawyer had Blomkvist investigated to be sure he’d be a suitable person to conduct this hush hush investigation.  The firm he hired put Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander on Blomkvist’s case and she amazed everyone with the level of information she was able to provide.  She looks like a street urchin in her raggedy clothing, multiple piercings through ears, nose, eyelid and lip, but when she needs to, she can take off the grunge and put on the ritz.

Blomkvist decides he needs a research assistant and none other than Lisbeth is hired at his request and they’re off and running, uncovering evidence that leads to the deep dark secrets within the Vanger family.  Those secrets are dark and deep.

So is the life that Lisbeth is leading, and we see that play out in her dealings with the social worker who manages her affairs.  After all, although 23, she’s been ruled incompetent to manage her own affairs.  When you see what she has to do to satisfy her new social worker overseer that she needs money will shock and horrify you.  You should be able to guess who will end up getting the worst of it in the end.  Who will be uncovered as the Vanger family black sheep is not all that easy to guess, but try if you must.  Or sit back and enjoy the story as it unravels.  It’s a complex, wonderful tale.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is brilliant.  Fraught with tension throughout, there are moment that ratchet that tension up to the point where you will be moving to the edge of your seat in anticipation of the scene yet to come.  Fincher makes wonderful use of hi cast, letting the throw it out there when that’s best, reining them in just enough where pullback works better.

Ensure your bladder is empty before you sit down to watch 2 hours and 38 minutes of almost non-stop action.   You won’t want to miss any of that action because you had to run out to the restroom.  Other than that, just sit back, relax, enjoy the stimulation this perfect mix of action, tension, betrayal, and retribution brings to its audience.

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