How can one of our finest living actors go from prestige pics like Howard’s End, Remains of the Day and Silence of the Lambs to straight to video (or,in this case, Netflix) dreck like Blackway in a few years?
That is the thought running through my mind as I watched Anthony Hopkins in Blackway as an aging sawmill worker (no, I don’t make this stuff up) who teams up with a young woman played by Julia Styles and a mentally slow but physically fiery young man (rising star Alexander Ludwig) to take down the town bully (Ray Liotta, who should be accustomed to playing villains in B-movies by now.)
What makes it even worse is that director Daniel Alfredson helmed Parts 2 & 3 of the original Swedish Lisbeth Salander trilogy (The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.)
So who is to blame for this almost lifeless wannabe thriller? Well, I could single out screenwriters Joe Gangemi and Gregory Jacobs who based their script on a novel called Go With Me ( by an author named Castle Freeman Jr.) and, according to website the playlist.net “we get all the plot beats of the novel, and none of the texture.” ( I haven’t read the book myself so I don’t wanna pretend I did.)
I could even assign part of the blame on Mr. Hopkins himself. He is listed as one of the producers, after all. and after working with Mr. Alfredson on the equally dismal The Kidnapping of Mr. Heineken he must have known what he was getting into. But I think the majority of the responsibility probably lies with the director.
After scanning the Internet Movie Database I notice Mr. Alfredson is back in Sweden filming a new trilogy. That is probably just as well since his adaptation of the Freeman novel, to quote a popular phrase, loses something in the translation.
If you’re like me and have a cinematic turn of mind you probably visualize the characters of the book you are reading in your mind.
Frankly, I saw MILLA JOVOVICH as Lisbeth Salander when I first read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I mean, she’s the one who said:
“I love to feel powerful. Maybe it’s my Yugoslavian background from, like, always ready for battle, that barbarian thing coming from the abyss of my DNA (snarls).”
And, no, this isn’t a line of dialogue. It’s a personal quote from her commentary track on the Resident Evil DVD.
Obviously, this is one action movie heroine who walks it like she talks it.
Unfortunately, Milla doesn’t speak Swedish. And, besides, NOOMI RAPACE did a bang up job as the sulky hacker babe in the Swedish language version of the Millenium trilogy authored by the late Stieg Larsson.
Of course, there is an obligatory English language version coming out later this year with American-born actress ROONEY MARA in the title role. Hopefully for the movie’s investors the flick will do better at the box office than Let Me In, the American remake of the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In.
Fortunately, DAVID FINCHER is directing the English language version of Tattoo and as the guy behind films like Fight Club, Se7en and Alien 3 he knows dark when he reads it. (So, I guess if we absolutely must have an English language Tattoo he’s the best guy for the job.)
The film is set for release in December and as you can see from the magazine cover below the marketing campaign has begun: