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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Daniel Craig | Rooney Mara | Christopher Plummer | Stellan Skarsgard | Review

This is the American remake of a Swedish film, the first of three in Columbia Pictures' adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Millennium Trilogy.  The grim and brutal aspects of the story are intact, imported from Larsson’s work via screenwriter Steven Zaillian and director David Fincher (Social Network).

Fresh from the losing side of a libel case, disgraced Millennium Magazine editor Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is privately investigated, then summoned by Vanger family patriarch Henrik (Christopher Plummer) to research the decades-long mystery of his 16-year old grand-niece’s disappearance.

Blomkvist is flawed but smart, and sets about systematically meeting the fractured Vanger family whose sullen members hardly speak to one another (and include a former Nazi party member).   Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård) brother to the missing Harriet oversees the investigation when Henrik suddenly takes ill.

Poring over microfilmed records and archival pictures for his investigation, Blomkvist asks for an assistant and is assigned the same person Vanger used to research Blomkvist himself.  Small world, and as it turns out, a mean one at that.

23-year-old Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is a pierced, leather-wearing, motorcycle-racing, hacker with a penchant for wearing her makeup like a bruise.  A ward of the state because of her unstable mental condition, Lisbeth earns money as a dangerously effective private investigator; she requests money from her new lawyer and guardian Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen) a corrupt, corpulent sadist who forces sex upon her as a tradeoff.

Salander is not one to be crossed and Bjurman finds out the hard way.

Once the formidable hacker teams up with Blomkvist, the pair forms an intelligent investigative team, either complicated or enhanced by a passionate affair together.  As they close in on what appears to be a serial killer, Vanger family secrets unravel to an unsavory crescendo.

Daniel Craig allows himself a vulnerability in the role of Mikael that viewers don’t often get to see, and it can be disarming.  Every bit as dangerous as a real dragon, Rooney Mara’s portrayal of the hurt, violated and violent Lisbeth is a fascinating portrait of a complicated psyche.  Change that final “e” to an “o” if you get her mad enough.  Still, Lisbeth is capable of being touched, of caring for someone, of wanting to please.

Christopher Plummer is suited to the role of Henrik, a wealthy man used to getting his way.  The one thing he can’t buy is a good family and that regret adorns his face like a funeral wreath.

Stellan Skarsgård’s Martin is chillingly charming, matching the Swedish climate and its forbidding atmosphere.

Director David Fincher (Social Network) delves into the dark side of human nature (as he did so compellingly in Zodiac and Seven).  The result is a taut, suspenseful, sometimes distasteful portrait of some of the worst traits the human animal has to offer.  There’s justice and retribution, but not a lot of kindness.

When your heroine is pierced and pissed most of the time there’s probably going to be more of a truthful rather than a happy ending.  As the dragon tattoo implies – mess with her and someone’s likely to get burned.  Mara’s Lisbeth understands what it’s like to be on both sides of the fire.

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