Set in a freeze-your-blood land of streamlined chrome and steely dawns, David Fincher's Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a malevolent remake of the 2009 Swedish blockbuster directed by Niels Arden Oplev from Stieg Larsson's thriller, follows a cold trail of ritually butchered women through rural Sweden. These previously unlinked crimes have been discovered by lefty reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), whose career was earlier upended by a billionaire corporate crook whom his reporting failed to bring down. Blomkvist has been hired on the rebound by another Swedish oligarch (Christopher Plummer) to solve a murder, but, as millions of earthlings know, the movie's real protagonist is his ace research assistant, Lisbeth Salander. The eponymous goth-punk-pierced-lesbian hacker supreme is played here by Rooney Mara, best known until now as the co-ed who called Mark Zuckerberg an asshole five minutes into Fincher's The Social Network, and it's her pale flame that illuminates the movie. Mara's Salander is not a carbon copy of the spiky-haired menace Noomi Rapace played in the Oplev version. She's funnier, as well as more plaintive, in her deadpan aplomb. Nor is Fincher's Tattoo a shot-by-shot recap of Oplev's dowdier production. The remake is a leaner, meaner, higher-powered affair, though similarly hampered by a long narrative fuse. Running 158 minutes, Dragon Tattoo requires well more than an hour for Blomkvist's story to converge with Salander's and, though things pick up once reporter and hacker begin pursuing parallel tracks (and each other), it grossly overstays its welcome.
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