Saturday 21 October 2017

New dragon's lost none of the fire

FILM REVIEWS

Aine O'Connor

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

Cert 18

David Fincher has directed some of the best films of the past 20 years, including a few of the most enthrallingly dark ones such as Se7en, Zodiac and Fight Club. But that does not necessarily mean a successful remake of one of the most popular stories of the past decade. However, he and his team manage to make a success of this, right from the debatable choice of a Bond-esque opening sequence.

The film is still set in Sweden and Mikael Blomqvist (Daniel Craig) is a journalist who has just lost a massive libel case. Having been investigated thoroughly without his knowledge by computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) at the behest of wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), Blomqvist moves to a remote island to investigate an old mystery. A mystery that will require the help of Salander.

Blomqvist and Salander are set up as two very distinct characters before they ever meet. Craig plays Blomqvist less dopily than Michael Nyqvist did in the Swedish version (that worked, Craig just does it differently) but Craig also leaves centre stage for Mara. Hers was a difficult task, as Noomi Rapace had done a wonderful job in Swedish of one of the most interesting female characters ever. Mara plays it her way, but gives her all and it pays off. A ward of state, Salander is subject to the exploitation of her parole officer Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen). She underestimates the depths of his depravity, but he in turn underestimates her.

This establishment of their characters is important, especially facing into a trilogy, but it makes for some uneven pacing and the Wennerstrom story, although integral, does feel tacked on at the end, even with the film running to 166 minutes.

There are a few small plot changes and shifts in emphasis, there are flashes of humour and a warmth that works. The supporting cast including Robin Wright and Stellan Skarsgard are good, and overall Fincher et al have made it their own without dissing either original version. It works.

Opens tomorrow

Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

Cert 12A

IT'S been five years since Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) last attempted an impossible mission and a lot has happened. Ethan's been banged up in a Moscow jail, Benji (Simon Pegg) has finally passed his operative exam and the whole Mission Impossible film series has been rebooted.

Hunt gets sprung from jail by Benji and agent Carter (Paula Patton), and within hours has to get into the Kremlin to steal nuclear codes. But they run into Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), a murderous evangelist on the same trail. In order to avert a return to the Cold War the US initiates ghost protocol, effectively abandoning IMF (Hunt's secret service, not the money people) thus leaving Hunt, Carter, Benji and Brandt (Jeremy Renner) to save the world alone. Nyqvist is joined by Anil Kapoor and Lea Seydoux as foreign baddies.

The script is pedestrian, the soundtrack predictable, the product placement heavy and it's a good 20 minutes too long, but overall this was a very pleasant surprise. Although this is director Brad Bird's first live-action film, he has more than proved his skills in Pixar with works such as The Iron Giant and Ratatouille. Visually the film is great. There are fabulous sweeping shots of cities such as Budapest and Dubai, Tom might be 50 next July but he wears it very well and Paula Patton is gorgeous.

The action is great, some standard chase style, but some very clever set pieces that work especially well in the general OTT daftness that the film embraces. And that is largely its success, it knows it's silly. But it's clever silly and there is a general sense of humour throughout.

In many ways it's the perfect Christmas holiday film, it's rated 12A and has a fair bit of choreographed fighting but little blood, virtually no swearing and no sex. What kids can't follow in the plot should be made up for by people falling off stuff.

Opens tomorrow

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