"The inevitable US remake..." a phrase that, over the years, has grown in notoriety and struck fear in the hearts of the off-the-beaten-track-popcorn-punters the world over. The likes of Nikita, Ring and The Grudge have all suffered at the hand of mainstream Americanisation and now the latest arrives!
This time however, there appears to be a light at the end of the normal car-wrecked tunnel - a well-known franchise that has appeared on the radar in both book and film form to many plus the fact that a director of note is behind the remake/re-imagining. These factors alone put the tale of the meeting of a disgraced journalist and a ward-of-state girl head and shoulders above other US remakes.
And Fincher's interpretation remains there, but doesn't go any higher. Rightly or wrongly, there is an anticipation for something visually and mentally outstanding from the man who delivered Se7en and Fight Club. Indeed, the opening title sequence smacks of Fight Club with disturbing visuals and a tune that assaults the eardrums but that is where the early Fincher stops. Everything else afterwards settles down into a solid, well presented experience but those who respect and adore his work may feel a tad disappointed that the flair is not there from him.
Wisely kept in the country of origin and not transported to New York state or New England, the cast all step up to the plate regarding performances and accents - except one. Craig, as the lead, strangely seems to have no accent of note whilst the rest (US, UK and Euro) of the cast all bring the Swede tweed to the fore. This doesn't detract from his delivery or the overall enjoyment but during interactions with others it does feel slightly odd.
The story is really about the two leads and, arguably the main one is that of the girl whose been fighting everyone, and everything, since 12 years old. Comparisons shouldn't be made but will be inevitable, especially since the gap between the original film and this is short and the first Lisbeth - Rapace - will be regarded as the ultimate interpretation. Mara, unrecognisable here, makes her own stamp on the photographic-memory hacker enough to not bring visions of Rapace to mind with flashes of humour and immature and misplaced feelings of love towards Craig's journalistic investigator. The somewhat graphic rape scene pain at the beginning pales into comparison with the heartbreak pain in her eyes in the final two minutes of the film for the heroine who dared to open up.
Apart from the change regarding the "whodunit/did it happen" aspect of the film, Fincher remains in the same lane as the original to the point where you may hear if you listen closely enough a voice saying "why bother?" However, his deft handling and editing of the sequence where in separate locations and following different clues both the leads make the break through in the case is an example of how multiple story strands should be handled.
A great introduction for those new to the Millennium series and not the travesty that those who love it thought it would be, this is another interesting addition to the cv of a director who continues to surprise with his choices and delivery.
UK release date: 26.12.11