With The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher has created something vastly different from Panic Room and The Social Network, perhaps more like his murder classic Se7en, only drawn out in slow motion double-time. It is a dark thriller chock full of mystery, a whodunit cloaked in a dizzying list of names, and plot twists that are unexpected, perfect for keeping the viewer’s attention. It’s quite possibly Fincher’s best film and a very obvious tribute to the works of Alfred Hitchcock.
That Mission Accomplished: Ghost Protocol is released nationwide on the same day as a Daniel Craig film is another interesting twist in how Hollywood plans for the holidays. These are two James Bond-ish releases to the general public on the same day (though Mission Impossible 4 appeared in IMAX the week before), one featuring the current James Bond as a journalist fighting the good fight. And don’t think that a Sherlock Holmes film (A Game of Shadows) in the theaters at the same time is just a coincidence – Hollywood carefully plots how it disemminates these pictures and the spy / detective / intrigue elements of all three movies makes comparisons unavoidable.
In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger is a kinder, gentler version of his Arthur Case character from the 2006 Spike Lee movie Inside Man. Again the Nazis have their impact on a film, yet set in the cold, dark backdrop of Europe the study of each of the personalities that emerge as central figures makes for multiple stories and a complex overlay- something not seen in Fincher’s previous films. Craig is believable as the cautious sleuth, Sherlock Holmes engaged in dipping in to the family secrets alongside a troubled hacker – a hacker who was hired by the same firm to stalk Craig’s character, Mikael Blomkvist, before the film even begins.
Daniel Craig works better toned down from the Bond hijinks, as an introspective writer who can crack a case, and whose talents are not ignored by his client because of the bullying he faced in court – the drama that starts the film off. Indeed, the enemy of my enemy is sometimes my friend is the common ground Plummer and Craig have before their relationship becomes more bonded, a need to solve a family riddle in a whirlpool of dysfunction that makes almost everyone suspect.
Having not read the book, this writer figured out two of the major plotlines before the story resolved itself. The interesting thing about that is that it didn’t take away from the film. With any good Agatha Christie-styled drama we all wonder if the butler did it, or was it the sleazy lawyer? Neither is the guilty party in this – the original Swedish title of the tale being “Men Who Hate Women.” It is a film about misogyny, make no doubt about that, and overcoming hate, and redemption. And at 2 hours and forty minutes it is longer than Ghost Protocol. But both films are worth your time this Christmas week, and this is another must see film after a stretch where Hollywood had little truly entertaining to offer.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.