This movie is based on an international bestselling and award-winning novel by the late Swedish author and journalist, Steig Larrson. The book, Män som hatar kvinnor (lit. "Men Who Hate Women") is the first of what was supposedly a ten-novel series but turned out to be only three, the series henceforth called, Millennium Trilogy. After watching this movie, I am very, very interested in reading these much talked-about books.


The film opens with courtroom drama: scenes showing the disgrace and downfall of financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). Before he is to serve prison sentence for libel, he accepts a job investigating the disappearance of one Harriet Vanger, favorite niece of an elderly industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube). Vanger believes that any one of his secretive, Nazi-loyalist family could be the culprit but with fifty years to bury all traces of the crime, Mikael has his work cut out for him. Enter Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a tattooed, abrasive but talented computer hacker, hiding demons of her own, who herself was initially hired by Vanger to check Mikael's background. As with all unusual partnerships of this kind, personalities initially clash before each character gradually learns to trust one another as their work drives them both deeper and further into the well of perversity and misogyny that surrounds the case.


On the surface, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an investigative thriller. We have male protagonist Mikael traveling to Sweden's icy-cold and forbidding Norrland to uncover a five-decade mystery that directly involves the aristocratic Vanger family on their island compound. In the classic whodunit approach, Mikael has to face the obstacle of zeroing in on his suspect from a particularly large list of possibles, all of whom are family members and all of whom harboring secrets they'd rather be left hidden.

The film proceeds through this series of uncovering clues in a strict, no-nonsense, business-like manner, not even bothering with red herrings, relying instead on the awkward relationship that develops between Mikael and Lisbeth to momentarily divert attention, long enough for relevant plot elements to fall into place. In this regard, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fails a little, falling into the cliche of forcing the two main characters to pair up no matter how uncomfortable and (one particular scene comes to mind) hilarious the coupling looks like on screen. Then again, by stretching the imagination, I suppose the relationship makes some sense. As powerful as Noomi Rapace played Lisbeth, she's the real star of the film and Nyqvist's Mikael Blomkvist has no choice but to acknowledge that and translate it into sexual attraction.

That said, the real meat of this film is not the mystery or the thrilling aspects, although those work quite sufficiently, but what's going on with the film's titular tattooed girl, Lisbeth Salander. She's a child for the most part -- she even has a state-appointed guardian to take care of her finances for her -- both fierce and brittle, a misanthrope even among her peers, a victim who fights back, a survivor. At once different from and at once a virtual mirror of all the women who suffer at the hands of men, Lisbeth stands for justice in this morally correct, conscience-driven movie.


Story - 8
Sound - 7
Cinematography - 8
Picture - 9
Special Effects - 5
Acting - 10

Overall - 7.8/10

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