Posted by Eli Cohen
Based on the Swedish Millennium trilogy "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, the movie of the same name lives up to the gripping mystery and startling twists that characterize the books.
The plot revolves around two central characters: Lisbeth Salander, an unstable, violent, bisexual hacker with a day job as a security consultant, and Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist who has been sued for libel.
The unlikely pair meet through a series of strange events, and join forces to solve a crime more than 40 years old — the murder of a wealthy Swedish businessman's niece.
From there, the story becomes a rather by-the-books closed-room mystery: the protagonists' employer lives on an island entirely inhabited by his detestable, mutually destructive family, and he is certain that one of them is responsible. To get to the truth, however, Blomkvist and Salander must first uncover a lot more dirt.
Daniel Craig, fresh off "The Adventures of Tintin," plays the stoic and dutiful journalist. Though he does a perfectly respectable job playing a unemotive character, Craig always seems a little too calm in the face of disaster to really sell danger to the audience. After all, what is one crazy family — granted, one that boasts Nazis, corrupt business tycoons and otherwise unsavory dinner guests — to James Bond?
On the other side of the spectrum is Salander, played by Rooney Mara (viewers may remember her as the girl who broke up with Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of David Fincher's "The Social Network"). Mara truly leaves nothing behind in her portrayal of the angry outcast — at times hauntingly vulnerable, she has the ability to switch gears and become a terrifying sociopath (if not a psychopath) in front of our eyes.
For big blockbuster films, Mara is a very new kind of hero. While she emerged in certain moments as a stereotypically beautiful Hollywood actress, Fincher ("Se7en," "The Social Network," "Fight Club") plays down her looks as much as possible by making her pale, giving her a sloppy haircut and covering her with tattoos and piercings.
It works, too. This protagonist is definitely not to be messed with, but she also offers audiences a character to root for, one who actually looks like someone you might see on the street, as opposed to the chiseled and aloof Craig.
In the end, this film fails to create much of a buzz because it does not take many chances — it's not quite as gritty as the book upon which it is based, and is also somewhat predictable. But one thing is for certain: Mara, who beat out highly-regarded actresses like Scarlett Johansson and Carey Mulligan for the part, has captured the imaginations of viewers everywhere with her heartbreakingly brutal depiction of the girl with the dragon tattoo.
Although the film is no longer playing in theaters, it will be released in DVD on March 22, 2012.