I hear they're remaking American Psycho
. I don't know why that's happening, or who thought it was a good idea to take a really great movie that's not even a full generation old yet, one that's still fresh in the memories of its fans, and reboot it. But they are. I live in a state of mildly curious dread over what will wind up in theaters.
I never had that feeling about this remake, even though it arrives here in English only a couple years after the original Swedish version was such a big art-house hit. That's because I trust David Fincher. He can deliver creepy (Seven, Zodiac
), he can deliver freaky (Fight Club
) and he can deliver human (The Social Network
). He can do pretty much anything he wants and I'll probably want to watch it again as soon as I've finished the first pass.
If you've seen the original film or read the series of airport thrillers it's based on, then you know the plot points already. If you haven't, well then the deeply disturbing serial murder/depraved family/neo-Nazi/female revenge drama will be fresh and you won't find yourself playing the comparison game. The good news: even if you do play that game, you won't feel like the loser. Fincher takes the original film's hot messiness and hotter violence and turns down the temperature -- as soon as he dispenses with the crazy, black liqui-gloop fantasy that constitutes the opening credits, a sequence that amounts to James Bond and Nine Inch Nails having sex and conceiving a deathbaby.
It's atmospheric, obliquely gruesome, both more and less rape-obsessed than the first (we see less in this version but it feels even sicker and the constant sound of wind and snow in almost every scene keeps the discomfort level high) and the two lead actors, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, play off each other just as well as Sweden's Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. Mara is especially impressive with how she trades Rapace's tough chick-Bronson qualities for an alien deadpan spookiness, one that suggests she may be as for-real insane as everyone already thinks she is.
And the point of it all is up for grabs. It's either a gratuitous exploitation film done up high style or it's a dissection/mash-up of every horrible post-World War II pop culture nightmare: lingering Nazism and the inability to eradicate evil, the mainstreaming of sexual brutality, rich people run amok, fears of endless winter, Happy Meals and the dead-end aesthetic of extreme body modification. If it makes you happy to think of this as a warning against any and all of it, then congratulations, you think smart stuff about Hollywood blockbusters. If you don't care about any of that, then at least you get to watch a really gnarly thriller for Christmas.