David Fincher’s adaptation of the international best seller is a triumph of craftsmanship over material. Though Steven Zallian’s screenplay preserves the ugly details and underlying puritanism of Stieg Larsson’s mystery novel, Fincher directs as if this were the sequel to The Social Network
: what register most strongly are the caffeinated pacing and pristine, impenetrable surfaces. The protagonists—a famous magazine reporter (Daniel Craig) and a goth-styled computer hacker (Rooney Mara)—solve much of the mystery through research. The task of dramatizing this proved too difficult for Niels Arden Oplev when he directed a Swedish adaptation
in 2009, but as Fincher demonstrated in Social Network
, he knows how to make information technology eerily seductive. Unfortunately Larsson’s salacious plot elements—mass murder, Nazism, and the like—feel just as shallow as they did in the earlier version. With Christopher Plummer. R, 158 min.