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This American take on the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is good, but unnecessary. Fans of the original and excellent European adaptation are unlikely to cozy up to David Fincher’s much-ballyhooed version, though it technically hits all the marks of Larsson’s blockbuster novel and does so with all the brooding chilliness of a typical Fincher. It kicks off with Karen O and Trent Reznor’s screeching (in a good way) cover of “Immigrant Song” and goes ever-so-slightly downhill from there. The plot—except for a tweak at the end—remains the same: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) has just lost his money and his reputation in a libel suit when he’s recruited by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), the patriarch of a wealthy business family, to help solve his niece’s 40-year-old murder case. Mikael eventually takes on an assistant, the antisocial and wounded Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an investigative hacker who’d been hired to dig up information on Mikael before Henrik approached him. Noomi Rapace, the Swedish actress who originated the role, will always be The Girl, but Mara is surprisingly serviceable: Her Lisbeth believably fights ugly with ugly. Craig, too, goes through all the correct motions. He and Mara make an intriguing investigative team, but only newbies will be enraptured by the story. To the rest, it’s all just a retread, and Fincher doesn’t bring enough of an interesting twist—in fact, there’s really no twist at all—to make this Dragon Tattoo worth the 158-minute sit.
The film plays all week in area theaters.