I went to see this knowing I wouldn’t like it all that much, but I wanted to see Christopher Plummer, still acting in his 80s, as the rich elderly man still heartbroken over the loss of his niece 40 years earlier.
That was the only reason I wanted to see this, and really about the only thing I knew about the film never got around to seeing the trilogy of Swedish films or read the novels they are based on for that matter. I didn’t expect to judge a remake by comparing it to an original I had never seen, but that is exactly what I wound up doing.
The opening credit sequence features male and female forms of CGI mercury bashing each other to bits. While this looks impressive, it is totally unrelated to the film and plays out like the Nine Inch Nails promo video it is, a Trent Reznor cover of Led Zepplin. I was expecting the story to be transplanted to America, the way Insomnia was moved from Norway to Alaska and Let The Right One In went from Sweden to New Mexico. But I soon discovered the film is set in an alternative reality Sweden where the Swedish language was never invented and Swedes talk to other Swedes in heavily slurred English. The only principal actor who doesn’t try a Swedish accent is Stellan Skarsgård a genuine Swede. Although Christopher Plummer was good in his small but important role, I kept wondering why they didn’t get, Max Von Sydow for the part. (Evidently they tried.)
The whole enterprise of shooting a Swedish novel in Sweden with American and British actors doing not so subtle Swedish accents seemed so ridiculous too me that I lost all interest. When the separate paths of the disgraced journalist trying to save his reputation and the disaffected hacker finally cross, past the one hour mark, I had stopped caring. I had even forgot about the mystery of the missing niece, which is supposed to tie the two main characters together.
Instead of hanging on the plot, I was just thinking about the very blatant Apple product placement. At $90 mil, this is not even the most expensive commercial for the MacBook Pro (that would be Mission Impossible 4 at $145 mil). But at nearly three hours it is certainly the longest Apple commercial ever made. When a state-appointed case worker asks the titular hacker why she needs such an expensive computer, I was hoping she would say “oh, you’re right, I should be using a homemade Linux box with open source software. Thanks for pointing that out.”