Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
Director: David Fincher
Running Time: 158 mins
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an American film about a journalist who is helped by a young woman working as hacker as he attempts to uncover the mystery of a murder that happened over 40 years ago.
Great remakes are often hard to come by, particularly when it comes to making the same film only a short time after the original’s release. In the case of David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the film is an engaging watch throughout that tells a great story, but if you’ve seen the Swedish original, then this remake offers very little, with an almost identical vibe that leaves you with nothing to show for your two and a half hours of watching.
First off, however, if you haven’t seen the original, then this film will prove a great watch. It’s an exciting, unpredictable and slick production that’s full of drama from start to finish, and the film does a great job of replicating the successes of the original once again, meaning that those who don’t want to watch a film with subtitles, or prefer the big names of the cast here, can also enjoy this excellent story.
So, my opinion on the merits of this film is exactly the same as what I thought of the original, which you can read in more detail about here.
What’s frustrating about this remake, however, is that it does almost nothing to set itself apart from the original, with a pretty identical atmosphere, identical settings, and of course an identical story. Now, the difficulty in criticising this part of the movie comes from its intentions, because it’s clear that this film isn’t meant to set the world alight and offer a completely new perspective on the Millennium series.
Made only two years after the original, there isn’t the added bonus of a change in filmmaking culture or a development in technology to create a bigger difference, while David Fincher disappointingly fails to stamp his trademark eerie intensity on the film, going along with the same slick thriller style as Niels Arden Oplev’s original.
While it is an undoubtedly good film, the original isn’t perfect, and I was expecting to see more from Fincher and the rest of the cast in this remake, in terms of offering a different perspective on the same story, as well as delving a little deeper into the darkest moments that the original often shied away from.
Gus Van Sant received immense criticism (and deservedly so) for his shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, and I get a very similar sense of frustration from this movie too. Of course, it’s far better than the Psycho remake, but The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is so similar to the original, almost never trying to offer something fresh, that it proves a really rather dull watch if you’ve seen and even enjoyed the original.
In contrast, Luca Guadagnino’s recent remake of Suspiria does exactly what a great remake should do, taking the same story and looking at it from a different, yet still recognisable perspective. While the original was goofy and insane, Guadagnino’s is eerie and disturbing. However, David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is just so alike the original, that there’s really nothing particular to praise about it that wasn’t already achieved in the first film.
Overall, then, I’m a little torn on what to think about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. On the one hand, I know that the story is excellent, and from the experience of a first-time viewing of the original, I can honestly say that this film will prove an entertaining watch if you’ve not seen the original before. However, as far as remakes go, it is on the weaker side, and I was very disappointed to see a director as talented as David Fincher not take the opportunity to put a unique spin on a great story, instead sticking frustratingly close to the original, to the point where the two films could easily be confused if it weren’t for the language difference, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.