A disgraced financial journalist, and a young antisocial computer hacker join forces to solve the 40 year old mystery of a teenage girl's disappearance. As they do so, they get drawn into serious crime and corruption, deadly family secrets, and a string of unsolved murders of young women spanning fifty years, which puts their own lives at unbelievable risk. Will they solve the mystery before they become history?
When I saw the original movie series about two years ago, I was awestruck by mostly the awesome acting of Noomi rapace, and the movie's visual style, and it's inherent raunchiness, which is more common in stylish European thrillers than slick Hollywood movies. When I heard there would be an English version, I thought this would be a hard act to follow, and without Noomi Rapace as the female lead would not be the same, because she was so much an integral element of the original movies success.
In the meantime I listened to the audiobook version featuring Simon Vance, which I also found quite enjoyable. He does all the voices including Lisbeth with a slight Swedish accent that veers toward cockney. The story is much more detailed with many elements glossed over or left out of the original movie.
So, when I heard it was about to be released, and saw the trailer, and understood the pedigree behind this movie with David Fincher directing, and Daniel Craig as Blomquist, I made a point of going to the evening show before its official opening today.
Inevitably, one cannot help but compare with the previous experience. Definitely, the fact that this is in English is the greatest justification for the remake, so for many people who are distracted by subtitles this will automatically be a better experience.
Steven Zaillian, the screenwriter, previously won an Oscar for writing Schindlers List. From a storytelling point of view, it stays close to the original story, with much more detail, in that respect exceeding the original. In other respects too it exceeds the original. I particularly liked for example the soundtrack with its darker gothic metal tones by Trent Reznor, and the opening sequence with somewhat James Bond style imagery although darker, and I loved the storytelling.
This movie completes the full arc of the story, whereas I felt unclear in the original about the full circle story against Wennerstrom. This movie introduces the cat, and Cecilia Vanger as a character. We get to meet some of the characters we don't meet in the original.
David Fincher goes to great lengths not to have it be a remake, having each scene be somewhat different, so in only one scene did I have slight deja vu, which I appreciated. This movie is also raunchier, you'll know what I mean when you see it and focuses more on the relationship between Blomquist and Salander. It also has occasional humor. The scene where Michael is hunted shocked me in my seat, and there are several shocking scenes in the movie, including the crime against Lisabeth by her guardian. This is a harrowing scene as is the basement scene, although I felt that particular one was more harrowing in the original. In another movie, Zodiac, Fincher delivers one of the most suspenseful basement scenes ever when an investigative journalist is in the house of the suspected Zodiac killer.
Perhaps the single best thing about this version is that it captures the intention of the original author. Apparently, when Stieg Larson was a teenager he witnessed a gang rape of a teenage girl, and did not intervene to stop it. He was always troubled by this, second guessing his behavior, and worked as an independent investigative journalist, and this was partly his motivation for writing the Millenium Trilogy series which has now reportedly sold over 60 million copies, and the great visual art of 4 movies.
In fact, he gave the character Lisbeth the same first name as the original victim, so when Blomquist proposes to Lisbeth that she help him find a killer of women, one senses that Larson would be very pleased about this.
I liked also seeing Robin Wright as Blomquists partner, and while I still give the original movie the cool points for style and the visuals, I think many people will without my preconceptions warm to Rooney Mara who does give a great performance, in her unique way as this antisocial yet extremely resourceful and intelligent computer hacker.
I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.
I think you will love it, and I hope this review was helpful.