Though many have whined and boohooed over an "Americanized" version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (a film which was previously made in Sweden, the nation in which the popular Stieg Larson series was born), it should be realized that this is not a cheap American adaptation, but rather an artistic adaptation of the book (as it should be). David Fincher, director of "The Game" and "The Social Network", took on the project and embraced the darkness and brutality of the story as he always does. With his guidance and critiquing eye, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" has achieved its full-potential on the screen.
Daniel Craig's character, Blomkvist, has left to a secluded island in Sweden to escape the negative press he has received in the main-land, but while there he ends up investigating a violent series of events with the killer of women suspected to be in his midst. In need of an assistant, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is assigned to help him identify the killer.
Rooney Mara is a spectacle in this thriller. Her appearance is dark yet highly seductive, and her atmosphere is chilling yet hopeless. A victim of heinous acts herself, it's riveting to watch her story collide with Blomkvist's, and their interaction on the screen is spot on. All of the gratuitous rape and violent scenes are completely necessary to bring the two stories together, and the scenes are certainly as intense as an R rating will allow. Lisbeth is a victim (and in many ways), and the graphic nature of the things that happen to her and others only propel the story forward.
As with all of Fincher's work, the film is gorgeous yet as haunting as the tone of the adaptation requires. Filmed in Sweden, this film still harkens to the land that the books were written in (even newspaper headlines etc are in Swedish).
Fincher's "..Dragon Tattoo" breathes desperation, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' soundtrack takes the film to that level while maintaining the cyber-centered realm that Salander lives in.
This film is a smart thriller, and it lives above and beyond any previous visual adaptation of this tale. Definitely a must-see story of revenge, loss, and hatred; Fincher's adaptation is filled with beauty and vivid brutality and certainly the ultimate "feel bad movie of Christmas".
My ranking: 5/5 stars