Brian’s Review – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

2011/ R/ 158 minutes

When a young computer hacker is tasked with investigating a prying journalist, their separate missions become entangled amid a decades-old conspiracy. David Fincher directs this English adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel.

Rating: 4 out of 10

I have always had a hard time rating films harshly when they’re as well acted and technically executed as this movie is. Clearly, anyone who knows David Fincher’s work (Seven, Fight Club, Social Network etc.) knows that he is a very talented director with a keen visual style. But, this movie is such a god damn plot mess filled with way too many disposable scenes that I cannot hold back my disdain. It also doesn’t help that it runs at over 2 ½ hours and you would think that would be enough to give the viewer a clear idea of exactly what’s going on and exactly why but it doesn’t. The whole buildup is just a stupid and meandering mess. Daniel Craig’s character is a complete waste of his talents. I have always thought he is a very believable actor who delivers solid performances but the script here turns him into generic wallpaper with very little motivation. I kept wondering several times, “Why in the fuck is still investigating this?” Cause he’s paid double his normal rate? Who cares? Cause he’ll get information on someone who fucked him over and he gets revenge? That would work if we were ever given a background as to exactly what happened so the viewer would give more than half a shit. Now, why within the huge canvas of a 2 ½ hour movie that contains some of the slowest dialogue scenes isn’t there more background on the main characters? I’ll give credit to Rooney Mara. She’s by far the best thing in the film and brings and energy to her character that the rest of the film lacks.

The side plot about what she has to go through to pay her bills is far more interesting than the main story. But, it doesn’t exactly go to explain who any of these people are. I have no doubt that this movie is faithful to its literary source or all of the fans of Stieg Larsson’s novel would have been in an uproar. But, this was a film that demanded a re-write to make it more of a film and less of a book translation. Why couldn’t the film have started with Daniel Craig’s investigation that led to his subsequent downfall? Why couldn’t Rooney Mara’s character have had some flashbacks to explain where she came from? I was very much looking forward to seeing this film and am obviously disappointed with the end result. This is easily the weakest film in David Fincher’s excellent filmography.

17 responses to “Brian’s Review – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

  1. Interesting review that made me rethink my take on it. I just watched this movie over the weekend. Had to break it up into two viewings. First of all I agree with you, more back story on both Craig’s journalism troubles and “the Girl’s” traumatic upbringing. Second, I did enjoy the escape from the norm with direction this movie took. It left more to the imagination, something I think is lacking in a blockbuster era of mind numbing fast camera trick bs. Just my 2 cents but nice review

  2. Well, I have to say that there’s no one that can claim Brian just goes with the crowd as the acclaim for this has been pretty universal. That being said, I’m having a really difficult time wrapping my head around how how you condense three novels into a 2.5 hour film and make a film that’s any good.

    The Swedish trilogy of all three filmsis available on Netflix streaming and they also have the extended edition which consists of six parts and nine hours. The Daniel Craig version is next up in my queue but I’m considering just ripping it and waiting another time to watch it after I watch the Swedish version.

  3. This is only one book. There has not been a film (other than the swedish films) done on The Girl That Played with Fire or The Girl That Kicked The Hornets Nest, so lets put that to bed. This is the BEST adaption of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo put to film!!!!!! To give this a 4 out of 10???? I cannot disagree more. The tone and pace alone was fantastic in this adaption. The swedish version raped the book. The american adaption gave the book a new life!!! *Neil W.Wright

    • Well, there you go… what do I know? I was under the impression from the trailers that it was the entire trilogy

      Exactly how did the Swedish version rape the book? I’m just curious. I’ve seen neither and I haven’t read the book.

      • Of course I use “rape” loosely but really the swedish adaption (these are adaptions) took a really well written novel, took out the great drama and sub plots and ignored them. Watch the two films back to back or read a bloody book. Nobody reads anymore. * Neil W. Wright

  4. Well, I still do, but I had never heard of this before the film was announced and I really have no interest in books once they’ve been adapted for cinema.

  5. I’ve read the books, haven’t seen the Swedish originals and I thought this movie was just, “eh.” The last twenty minutes were laughably ridiculous and the “twist” was completely different in the books and makes ZERO sense in the film. A thankless remake in all forms, thanks for judging it fairly!

  6. There’s a world of difference between a great book and a great movie. One is meant to experienced in one sitting and the other is not. The book may be good (I haven’t read it and have no opinion) but I stand by my review of the film. It’s a mess.

    • This is a very good point. For example, look at The Natural. If the film ended the way the book had, it would have been a disaster, however, the ending of the book worked perfectly for the book.

  7. kidmiracleshitter

    I haven’t seen it yet but I’ll buy what you’re selling here. The only positives I’ve heard about this movie have been in regard to the cinematography and editing, so, somebody, somewhere, fucked up, repeatedly.

  8. Hi,
    I just came across this and thought I’d interject. Unfortunately in my opinion both the American and Swedish adaptations did not do credit to the book. I fell in love with the novels, however if you do choose to read them pay attention. The names and places can get a little confusing. I was lucky enough to be ready this book whilst in Stockholm so could actually pinpoint some of the main places. The films… eeek the main problem with the Swedish films is the casting. Completely ridiculous. If you ever watch it and compare with the descriptions from the book you’ll understand. The American version did do a lot better job and I agree with you that Rooney Mara did a great job. I think Daniel Craig did a good job too taking into account what he was given to work with. The script let this film down.
    In the books… I think this one, you do get told more about Lisbeths history though Blomkvist’s is always a little cloudy.

    I think they’ve presumed that to watch this film you have already read the books and therefore do not need as much detail then you would normally. But just to add into confusion…why oh why is Daniel Craig the only one not doing a Swedish accent!?

  9. victornordquist

    Have you seen the original movie? 🙂
    I think it’s better.

    Visit me at
    I mostly write about trendy fashion shoes and glasses!
    You’re welcome! 🙂

  10. Just found your blog and love it!

    WHAT!?! This movie is genius. I think your issues are with the character development but that is done throughout the series and I like how we didn’t get evertpything told to us off the bat because it kept us interested in who these people are.

  11. I saw this the other day while I was readying myself for a complete look at all four films in the saga (both original and remake), and I have to say you took it in a much more negative light than I did. I still rank the Swedish original above Fincher’s version, which, as you pointed out, was a lot more true to the book, but I think I found the added running time allowed more examination of the characters – dont’ worry, Blomkvist’s history and Salander’s backstory are examined in the next two books (to a point, not entirely) so you have that to look forward to.

    Nice review!

  12. Brian, I disagree with a lot of what you’ve said here, but I agree with your assessment of Rooney Mara. She’s excellent, although I still don’t think she’s better than Noomi Rapace in the original. Nice review!

  13. Pingback: » Movie Review – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) Fernby Films

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s