So I just got back from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and boy was that an endurance test of a movie! I mean it, the pacing in this movie is an absolute nightmare. I feel like I just got finished sitting through three separate movies entirely. It just didn't know when to begin, and, suffering from Return of the King syndrome, it has absolutely no idea when to wrap things up.
The premise of the story is that Daniel Craig is signed on to investigate the unsolved mystery of the disappearance of a woman from about forty years ago. Meanwhile, the title character, Lisbeth, played phenomenally by Rooney Mara, is brought in to help after Craig learns about the in-depth background check that she was able to secretly conduct on him, and figures that her particular private investigative expertise will come in handy. Their case is the bulk of the main story in this movie, yet it takes forever for us to actually get there.
First, while Craig is getting started with his own detective work, we follow Lisbeth around as she deals with her pig of a legal guardian in order to receive access to her money. Now, though gratuitous, this is all extremely interesting and intense stuff. However, while it certainly adds character, it does little to add to the actual narrative, and feels really clunky once we transition away from that plot-line and into the main story. But like I said, it is all very interesting, but I just wish that its inclusion could have been more relevant, and perhaps condensed a little.
Once we finally do jump to the main plot, the story is all well and good. There's a lot of information thrown at you, and it's at times a little hard to follow all their investigative work, though I wouldn't say that I was ever necessarily confused. Overall, I'd say the main story is well told, which is thanks in no short part to the awesome performances from Craig and Mara.
However, once the story is done and the mystery's solved, we then enter the third movie within a movie, as we now follow Lisbeth around, doing Daniel Craig a favor or something. I dunno, this whole sequence was just overlong and tedious. The story was over, the movie shoulda been wrapping up, but instead we're off on another escapade for a good twenty or so minutes, and I'm just ready to freaking go. It ultimately felt unnecessary, and unlike the opening act, it wasn't even all that interesting. Really a poor note to end the movie on.
And that's another thing, the movie suffers from an all too abrupt ending. Hell, they don't even let the last shot linger a little before the credits start crawling up the screen. It's like, they had no idea when to actually end the movie, yet when they finally do, they just couldn't end it quick enough. These kinds of issues really just soured up an otherwise potentially really good movie.
Then again, looking at the story as a progression of Lisbeth's dark, personal journey and how she deals with the situations brought onto her and the people she meets, if we view this, and not the mystery at hand, as the central core of the movie, then a lot of these added scenes do begin to hold a little more merit. That said, with the exception of my point that the scenes lack relevance, all of my complaints still stand. Basically, it feels like David Fincher was just trying to fit in way too much, and it just didn't work.
Visually speaking, this is a very visceral movie. It's just so magnificently dark and gritty, yet super slick. And with the amount of sex and nudity on display, the film is also borderline NC-17 (I seriously don't know how this one got away with an R rating). It really is one of the better looking movies of the year, though, which is unsurprising coming from David Fincher.
The score is also getting a lot of attention. Trent Reznor returns after his awesome job on The Social Network, and he doesn't disappoint too badly. I didn't think the score was as good as his previous work, as it did feel a bit intrusive at times. But overall, the music was fine, and that heavy rock song from the trailer was actually quite fitting in the opening sequence (unlike in said trailer).
So in the end, the movie was okay, but it could have been so much better. And David Fincher is certainly capable of delivering so much better. And I dunno what happened, but something just went terribly wrong in the editing room. The core of the movie is fine, and Craig and Mara are both great (and I really liked the cat, too!). It's just such a shame that the movie released with so many flaws intact. However, it's definitely worth checking out, and despite its many flaws, I'd still be totally on board to revisit this film in the future, as there's a whole lotta good here to digest, too.