Hollywood’s take on Stieg Larsson’s novel is stylish but empty, writes
IT WOULD BE unfair (possibly actionable) to draw too many comparisons with The Da Vinci Code, but, while watching David Fincher’s suave, often lethargic walkthrough of Stieg Larsson’s sensation novel, unwelcome thoughts of that wretched film do swim to the surface.
A great deal of effort and money has gone into rendering the plot as faithfully as possible, yet it’s hard to avoid the sense that too much fuss is being made about not very much. Vast swathes of the supposed action comprise furrowed actors staring at computer screens or flicking through photographs. Putative
revelations play like minor footnotes. Though the story has been juiced up with spurts of sexual violence and paragraphs of technobabble, it still plays like a half-decent episode of Inspector Morse with ideas above its station.
Mind you, David Fincher might be just the right man to take on such a beast. The former pop video director is an impressive stylist, but nobody could mistake his seductive, empty films for the work of an intellectual.
Consider the hilariously vulgar title sequence. Suggesting the opening of a Pierce Brosnan Bond film, the snippet features oily animations scored to a revamped version of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song. Did Fincher really pick that tune because it features the words “ice and snow” in the first line? The film is set in Scandinavia, after all.
At any rate, given that everybody on earth has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or seen the serviceable (not dissimilar) Swedish film adaptation, the pedestrian plot probably requires only the sketchiest summary.
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), an investigative journalist for some archaic entity known as “a magazine”, has just left his job after getting mugged in a libel case. He takes an assignment from an elderly industrialist (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of the mogul’s grandniece in the late 1960s. After too much preliminary shuffling about in the snow, Mikael gains an unlikely Dr Watson in the form of a tattooed, pierced computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).
Once again, as in the Swedish version, the film inherits a horrible structural defect from Larsson’s novel. For the first hour, Lisbeth and Mikael live unconnected lives. The hacker enacts an ingenious, deserved revenge on the stateappointed carer who has been sexually assaulting her. Mikael meets various interchangeable