What is it with Hollywood and re-making Swedish movies? Just a few years back we had Let Me In, an almost frame-by-frame re-shoot of the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In, except with a few dumb-looking CG special effects. Now we have The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, take 2, a mere 2 years after the Swedish version (Man som hatter kvinnor,which translated directly to men who hate women, which I guess didn’t seem marketable in English) hit theaters.
I’ll admit, despite my general distaste for remakes and the like, I’m pretty excited this time around. And not just because this time I’ll get a chance to see an adaptation of one of my favorite books on the big screen (I had to catch the original Dragon Tattoo movie on Netflix).
Anyone who’s walked by an airport bookstore any time in the sat few years knows that the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is based on an immensely popular crime thriller by author Stieg Larsson. Stieg Larsson being Swedish, it made sense that a Swedish movie adaptation of the book quickly followed. And since if there’s one thing American audiences can’t abide, it’s subtitles, it was inevitable that an English language version follow on the heels of the Swedish movie’s (and the book’s) success.
I have high hopes for this particular remake, for a number of reasons.
The Swedish version of the movie was good, there’s no denying, but a tad uneven. It excelled at capturing certain aspects of the story, while others sort of fell by the wayside. Though the film excelled at character development and atmosphere, the plot could be a little hard to follow, and as a mystery movie, it’s fair to say that it (at least partially) failed. In a murder mystery movie, it’s always good to give all the suspects a bit of screen time and character development, to keep the audience waiting in excitement for the big reveal. The real fun of murder mysteries is in guessing how the culprit could be, which is hard if there’s only one suspect whose name you can remember. In the Swedish version of the GIrl with the Dragon Tattoo, to one’s great surprise, the guy who got more than two lines turned out to be the bad guy.
The remake has the chance to improve upon the original in this regard. Hollywood seems to have a knack for suspenseful thrillers that play mind games with the audience, which is just what a dark and grisly mystery story like this calls for.
Of course, it’s all for nothing if the character development is lost. Which is why I’m glad that David Fincher (the man behind the Social Network) is set to direct. If he can squeeze in just have the snappy dialogue and character drama threw was in that movie, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be all set to go. Better still, Daniel Craig is going to be playing one of the two lead roles, that of the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist. After watching him play James Bond in Casino Royale, I know he is capable of bringing depth and emotion to a character even while doing exciting, action-movie things like jumping around on cranes, fighting on top of oil trucks, and playing poker.
The title role of Lisbeth Salander will be played by Rooney Mara, a relative unknown. She had a bit role in the Social Network, and did a good job with it, and she had a big role in the Nightmare on Elmstreet remake, but can she truly act such a demanding role? Can she fill the shoes left by Rooney Mara, the fantastic Lisbeth from the Swedish movie? No one really knows yet. Hopefully the answer is yes.
This film will be out around Christmas time, apparently. It should make a great holiday movie, filled with such cheerful things as murder, rape, dismemberment, strangling, psychopaths, depression, terror, and financial corruption. Oh, and smoking.