The problem with foreign movies is that they can be so popular overseas that they warrant an American/English version. This isn’t really a problem for the foreign movie itself, but more so the remake/or re-imagining English version. It will always be compared to the one that came before it especially if it was only two years ago when the first one came out. Therefore, this review is directly interconnected with the Swedish film that came before it. I have found that I cannot judge this English version for itself, and it seems that the only reason it exists is because English people have a fear of subtitles.
The film follows disgraced journalist Mikhael (Daniel Craig) as he investigates a 40 year old disappearance of a young girl who may or may not be dead. He eventually joins forces with computer hacker Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) in order to solve this mystery that has plagued a family for years.
The opening credits of the film really kick ass and show some high aspiration. What’s clear is that David Fincher’s new collaboration with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor kicks major ass once again with the score. It matched directly with the notes of the film and paced it quite well. The credits are Reznor showing off his talents with some really interesting black oil creations. The credits attempt to foreshadow a very edgy, punk film. Unfortunately, this rocking opening fails to last throughout the rest of the film.
That’s the issue with film, it fails to live up to its hype. The Swedish film has so many layers and depth while this English version remains rather stagnant with its two story lines. Sure, they interconnect, but the nuance of the Swedish film with multiple themes that intersect seems lost. Luckily, the film picks up steam once Lisbeth and Mikhael meet up, but, up to that point, it plods along.
The performances in the film are fairly strong by themselves. Daniel Craig as Mikhael works well in the film and he carries the screen on his shoulders in a performance that makes him seem quizzical in his search for the answers while also very vulnerable. Rooney Mara has a stilted performance of Lisbeth, but it works well for her character. However, Noomi Rapace’s role of Lisbeth in the Swedish trilogy is so perfect that it’s hard to see anything but imitation. Mara tries hard, but she has large boots to fill with smaller feet, and she does not come off as punk as Noomi.
The director David Fincher has some of his stylistic flare, but he doesn’t take too many risks with his shots or camera angles when this is the type of story that could allow for that. Plus, those opportunities could help distinguish it from the previous films.
The film by all means is good, but, once you’ve seen the near perfect Swedish films that came out only a few years before the English version, there’s really no comparison for which one triumphs.