I love Fincher's work as a director and thought the performances were fine. There was some very nice camerawork going on, it had a great chilly look to it and Reznor's score was intermittently effective.
That having been said, as someone who has never read the books, I am shocked that this is what all the hubbub was about. Grotesque, obvious one note characters (both heroes and villains), bullshit sexual politics and Nazi's are bad? Amazing. It figures that my parents (and seemingly the rest of repressed WASP middle America) who are devoted CSI and Law & Order fans would eat this tripe up. They should all have to sit down and watch Irreversible so as to get a little shading and ambiguity to season their coveted anal rape scenes.
I have just come to a point in my life where I have to admit I can't stand watching rape. I don't want to see it in any movie anymore. Just as some people swear off things like Saw or Hostel or The Passion of the Christ cause they find torture distasteful. I knew the film would feature sexual assault as a component of its "story", but soldiered onward cause I am a cinephile and am compelled to see every Fincher film in the theater. Rape is bad and cheap enough as a plot device to get a reaction out of an audience as it is, but to so unnecessarily shoehorn it in as this film does is unforgivable.
I guess I don't understand the Swedish guardian system and as previously stated, haven't read the books, so I can't comprehend why a grown woman would need to put herself into this situation for money. Let alone a grown woman who is employed by an extremely wealthy family doing illegal investigatory work. A grown woman who apparently can quite easily disguise her identity, manufacture passports and go on a globetrotting trek, emptying the bank account of an industry titan while ensuring he spends the rest of his life in jail. Seems to me a grown woman who does all these incredible things could easily disappear and get one over on an oafish bureaucrat forcing her to give him handies for McDonalds and smokes money. Except this isn't a grown woman, it's a "girl with a dragon tattoo". A masturbatory fantasy dreamt up by pseudo-feminist journalist.
A girl who is easily victimized, yet capable of totally badass revenge. This gives the author the ability to exploit her sexually, but she still mysteriously is very eager to hop in the sack with a crusader version of his milquetoast self. This isn't a real character, it's a narrative device that morphs into whatever the author needs it to be to justify whatever he wants in any particular scene, not unlike the ludicrous, pointless monster of Abrams execrable Super-8. It's a cheap male fantasy and so transparently a young girl fetish of Larsson's that the notion of Lisbeth Salander as some sort of feminist icon is despicable. Unless of course women truly feel the best way to battle institutionalized misogyny is to become even more violent sexual predators than their male counterparts, a game of atrocity escalation I sincerely doubt would benefit any participant or onlooker.
On top of that grody quagmire is the fact that about an hour and a half in, I realized I didn't even know who the suspects were. I mean, of course I knew it would be Skarsgaard, because he's a known heavy and he was obviously trying to throw off Daniel Craig by being the only pleasant family member. Whatever mystery and intrigue the book had is lost in translation as the film becomes an indecipherable blur of looking through files and photos and placing push pins on maps. Who cares? And the Wennerstrom nonsense that bookends the film couldn't have been more apropos of nothing or of less interest to anyone. If we don't know why it started, we sure as shit don't care how it ends.
This seems to me a catastrophic step backwards for Fincher. A calculated ploy to avenge his admittedly reprehensible Oscar snubs of the past few years by rubbing the Academy's noses in screeners full of ugly, leaden airport layover garbage while he reaps box office success. Except it doesn't seem to be doing well opening weekend, so hopefully, a la Green Lantern, its postulated sequels will be given lip service, but never materialize and Fincher will be freed up to move on to something worthy of his time and considerable talent.