Following on from last week’s Favourites Friday post on Aliens and its kick ass protagonist, Ripley, here is my review double bill on David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. Both these films, which were released in the UK in December 2011 and January 2012 respectively, have a feisty, strong female lead.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara
IMDb: “Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.”
Some of my friends had read the books and seen the Swedish films, but when I bought my tickets and sat in the cinema waiting for the lights to go down, the only things I knew about Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larrson’s novel is that Daniel Craig was in it as a journalist and that there was a character called ‘Lisbeth Salander’. That, literally, was it.
As soon as the opening credits started up and Karen O started singing her cover of Led Zep’s ‘Immigrant Song’, I thought to myself: “If the film is anything like these credits, I’m going to really enjoy it.” Happily, I wasn’t disappointed. The opening credits were stylish, slick and sexy, and the film was as well.
Like I said earlier, I came to this film an absolute newbie to TGWTDT franchise, and will not be making any comparisons to Niels Arden Oplev’s film. I’d like to see that adaptation but, for the time being, I am in no particular rush to see it.
Back to Fincher’s adaptation, and the first point of note: its fantastic cast. Craig can certainly pass for being Swedish and, after seeing him in Scandinavian mode, I now have quite a sizeable crush on him… As he is best known for playing Bond, I wasn’t sure how well Craig would fit within the TGWTDT world, bearing in mind that he wouldn’t have his Q gadgets and fast cars. In my opinion, he was right at home. Rooney Mara’s portrayal of Lisbeth was heartfelt and captivating, with a great Scandinavian accent masking her native American one. Her performance in even more impressive when you bear in mind that this is her first major lead role.
Other points of notes include its excellent soundtrack, courtesy of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and its beautiful setting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I retire I’m heading for Sweden. I especially liked the little touches, like how the newspapers were in Swedish and the TV channels had Swedish subtitles, even if the presenters were talking English. I can’t say whether it is faithful to the book, but the plot is captivating and incredibly involved: make sure you pay attention with this one. It’s a long film, approx 2hrs 40, but I didn’t want it to end.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor
IMDb: “A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.”
When Soderbergh released The Girlfriend Experience in 2009, he cast a porn star in the lead role, a high-end Manhattan call girl. With this in mind, it makes perfect sense for him to cast a Mixed Martial Arts star in Haywire, an action film about an ex-Marine.
As with TGWTDT, I knew very little about Haywire. I knew Michael Fassbender was in it, though I didn’t know how large a part, and that he would be beaten up by, presumably, the leading lady. I also didn’t know that Michael Douglas was in it. And Antonio Banderas. However, these two stars are only in small, but nonetheless significant, roles. The leading role belongs to Carano, in what is her debut feature film role.
In my opinion, Carano did not disappoint. With her background in Mixed Martial Arts, Carano’s fight scenes have that added element of authenticity, and I think this certainly translates onto the big screen. From the very off Carano’s Mallory Kane is fighting. We don’t know much about her background: we meet her father, an author, but we don’t know anything about her military career or her relationship with the firm’s director, Kenneth. We know they are no longer but what actually happened?
This doesn’t detract from the plot, however. Again, you need to make sure that you give Haywire your full attention as the plot is quite intricate and fast-paced. Everything only really becomes clear in the last third, and a lot is packed into the film’s 95 minutes.
Only time will tell what Carano does next, but Haywire was certainly an excellent first film, and one that she was perfectly suited for.