Thoughts on David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I have come to the conclusion that Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy must be literary dynamite. The first novel must combine the descriptive prowess of Charles Dickens, the wit of Oscar Wilde and Agatha Christie’s flair for mystery. For what else could explain the success of a book that has spawned two mediocre film adaptations?

When I first heard about an English-language cinematic adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I really could not see the point given how recently the Swedish film had been released. I was much more enthused when news of David Fincher and Trent Reznor’s attachment to the project was announced. Fincher would be the man, I thought, to fix the numerous flaws present in Niels Arden Oplev’s cinematic version of the book. The narrative would be tidied, the pacing would be rectified, and the film would sound fantastic to boot.

Unfortunately only one of these three is true of Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is pretty tough going when the best thing about a film is the title sequence. It is worse when that film is almost two and a half hours long. The title sequence is amazing, the combination of the visuals and the version of ‘Immigrant Song’ by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Karen O works sublimely. However, the rest of the film is a let down. Although it is more stylish than its predecessor, the flaws are all too apparent.

This leads me to believe that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a very good story. The murder mystery premise is intriguing enough. However, it is poorly executed; the climax of the action arrives prematurely. This poor pacing means that the ending feels as if it lasts for an age. Moreover, if this mystery is secondary to the two protagonists’ journeys, than the characters should be more interesting. Neither Lisbeth nor Mikael are particularly fascinating characters; they offer nothing that really engages the viewer. Without a good narrative or absorbing characters, David Fincher’s film simply offers decent visuals and a great soundtrack.

In summary, no more film versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should ever be made. David Fincher should be more picky about his projects. So should Trent Reznor, who should return to contributing to film projects of the same calibre as David Lynch’s Lost Highway.