It’s hard to fully enjoy a whodunit when you already know the clues, the red herrings, and who done it. If only Americans were willing to read subtitles—or watch movies with unfamiliar actors who are dubbed—there would be no reason for director David Fincher and company to have labored so mightily on this exacting remake of Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 Swedish sensation. But that’s show business. If you’re unfamiliar with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, or wonder what all the shouting’s about, you are the target audience for this picture.
The plot deals with a wealthy industrialist (Christopher Plummer) who hires a skilled reporter (Daniel Craig) to reexamine a forty-year-old, unsolved mystery: the sudden disappearance of his niece. Craig’s unlikely ally in researching the case is a strange, antisocial but talented computer hacker—and analyst of information—named Lisbeth Salander, (Rooney Mara). Larsson’s story not only deals with investigative journalism (less so in this telling than in the original film) and societal corruption, but a series of horrifying attacks on women which are echoed by Salander’s own experiences. The viewer is spared little in a notorious rape scene and its shocking aftermath; these moments were tough to endure in the Swedish movie and they’re just as difficult this time around. (It was at this point that I started to wonder why I was subjecting myself to something so repellent—for the second time.)
I realize that this version, with a well-known cast, will reach a much wider audience than any foreign-language movie could in the U.S., but it still seems a shame that so much effort and money have been expended on a replica of a perfectly good Swedish movie.