Once you strip away all the complexities and detail from the Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium Trilogy, the books preach two things;
1. Corporations are bad.
2. Yay for women.
It seems utterly blasphemous then that these are the two things most obviously ignored in director David Fincher's Hollywood remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Of course, there have already been three Swedish films made of Larsson's books. These had an unusually large mainstream audience for foreign films and its stars - Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist - have both gone on to major Hollywood roles in films such as Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows for the former and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol for the latter. Why an English-speaking version set in Sweden where half of the main characters speak with an American accent and half speak English with a Swedish accent was needed is beyond me. The accent discrepancy being just the most obvious (and annoying) flaw.The first poster for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for example, featured Daniel Craig's character fully dressed and holding actress Rooney Mara from behind as she stands topless with her pierced nipple exposed. Yes, nothing represents feminism more than a highly sexualised and exploitative poster that actually tells us nothing about the story and contradicts the Larsson's themes. Sigh.
And nothing better portrays Larsson's anti-corporation stance than the shameless product placement scattered throughout the film which includes multiple scenes of the female protagonist eating McDonalds Happy Meal's and drinking Coke. I can see the advertising pitch now featuring Mara in character as Lisbeth Salander: *sips coke* “Mmmm, when I’m done bringing the elite powers that rule the planet under a totalitarian government that uses the media to keep people stupid and women in their place, I get thirsty. That’s why I drink Coke.”
The film follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) who - after a fall from a grace - is hired to investigate the disappearance of a woman some 40 years earlier. He's aided by Goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and together they uncover a spate of gruesome serial killings that target women. Technically there's not much to fault. The production is all indicative of the $90 million budget and it's money that has been well spent on immaculate set pieces, breathtaking on location shoots and explosive action sequences. What's missing is the tension and building sense of dread that was so beautifully translated from the book and into the Swedish version of the film. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo crawls in some parts and with a run time of almost three hours, there are often scenes so necessary you can't help but wonder whether the editor stepped outside for a coffee. Or nine.The performances are solid and once you get past the fact Mara's eyebrows have been bleached white so that she resembles a 14-year-old albino punk, she's quite good. Considering Rapace's performance in that same role has already become iconic, Mara does an impressive job at making the character her own and taking it in a new direction while remaining faithful to the original nature. The opening credits are like the beginning of a Gothic James Bond film and you will not find a better two minutes in the film as Trent Reznor and Karen O's haunting song accompanies the visual art.
Reznor's score seems strangely underused for the remainder of the film and the only other musical highlight is during a climatic scene which will see you deleting Enya's Sail Away of your iTunes as soon as you home from the cinema. The remaining two sequels for this film have already been green lit and maybe - if Fincher returns - he can learn from his mistakes with this one. However, fans of the book and Swedish film, not to mention those who enjoy a good thriller, will be disappointed with this movie which can only be described as a sell-out.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is out Thursday.