Disgraced journalist Mikael (Craig) takes a job on an isolated island looking into the 40-years-earlier disappearance of the teenage niece of millionaire industrialist Vanger (Plummer). But the deeper Mikael digs, the messier things get. He discovers all kinds of nastiness in Henrik's dysfunctional family. Then he teams up with gifted hacker Lisbeth (Mara) to unravel the knots in the story. But as a ward of the state, Lisbeth is also dealing with her own rather intense situation.
Essentially two separate plot strands that merge together at various key points, the film follows Mikael and Lisbeth as they investigate the girl's disappearance and cope with personal issues. Mikael is seeing his married boss (Wright), and Lisbeth is fighting back at her abusive parole officer (van Wageningen). As they meet members of Vanger's extended, feuding family (including Sarsgaard, Richardson and James), Mikael and Lisbeth find their paths converging. Clearly working together is the way forward, but only if Lisbeth decides she can trust him.
Especially tight writing and direction make the film thoroughly involving, adding an emotional sting to the brainy dialog and narrative. The film looks like a work of art, with especially fine production design, cinematography and editing, plus a fiercely inventive score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Acting-wise, Mara gets the more interesting role, constantly letting us see new sides to Lisbeth as the details unfold. By contrast, Craig and the fine supporting cast look like they're just along for the ride.
Fincher's perfectionist sense of artistry makes this film much more visually and thematically involving than the original 2009 Swedish film. There is a nagging inconsistency of actors' accents, as everyone speaks a variation of English even though they're all Swedes, so perhaps not transposing the story to an English-speaking location (see Let Me In or Insomnia) is really the only mistake. Because otherwise this is a riveting, gorgeously crafted thriller for grown-ups.
Run time: 158 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 21st December 2011
Box Office USA: $102.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $102.5M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Corporation, MGM, Scott Rudin Productions, Yellow Bird Films
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 193 Rotten: 31
IMDB: 7.9 / 10
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian
Starring: Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, Stellan Skarsgård as Martin Vanger, Robin Wright as Erika Berger, Steven Berkoff as Dirch Frode, Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger, Embeth Davidtz as Annika Blomkvist Giannini, Geraldine James as Cecilia Vanger, Goran Višnjić as Dragan Armansky, Elodie Yung as Miriam Wu, Julian Sands as Young Henrik Vanger, Ulf Friberg as Hans-Erik Wennerström, Gustaf Hammarsten as Young Harald Vanger, David Dencik as Young Gustaf Morell, Alan Dale as Detective Isaksson, Yorick van Wageningen as Nils Bjurman, Donald Sumpter as Detective Inspector Gustaf Morell, Bengt C.W. Carlsson as Holger Palmgren, Tony Way as Plague, Inga Landgré as Isabella Vanger