PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Swedish “Millennium” magazine, has just lost a libel case brought against him by crooked businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a researcher and computer hacker, has compiled an extensive background check on Blomkvist for a job that Swedish magnate, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) wants him to perform.
In exchange for damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and possible murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. While hunting for clues, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook filled with information that may help explain Harriet’s disappearance.
Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen). He takes control of Salander’s finances and rapes her. She stuns him with a taser, blackmails him, and regains control of her life.
Blomkvist hires Salander to further investigate the notebook’s content, and she uncovers a connection to a series of murders that occurred from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s. During further investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s brother Harald (Per Myrberg) identifies Martin, Harriet’s brother (Stellan Skarsgård), as a possible suspect. Meanwhile, Salander makes increasingly revealing connections between Harriet’s disappearance and the entire Vanger dynasty.
Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him. He brags about his crimes, but denies killing his sister. Salander arrives and saves Blomkvist. She pursues Martin, who loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire.
As more connections are made about the Vanger family, Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive, living under a false identity to hide from Martin. Blomkvist confronts Harriet, who describes the generations of abuse within the Vanger family and Martin’s knowledge of her involvement in her father’s death. Finally free of her brother, thanks to Salander and Blomkvist, Harriet returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.
As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it is not helpful. Salander responds by hacking Wennerström’s computer and presenting Blomkvist with the necessary incriminating information about his activities. This evidence vindicates “Millennium” and destroys Wennerström.
Salander also hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and transfers two billion euros into her own accounts. During this time, Wennerström is murdered. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees Blomkvist and his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright) walking together happily. Heartbroken, she throws the gift away and rides off on her motorcycle.
There was a great deal of hype surrounding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can’t really tell you why, though. It isn’t like this is an original idea. First off, it is a series of books. Second, there is a Swedish film of the same name that just came out about 2 or 3 years ago.
It is well documented how much I hate remakes, but I have to contain that hatred when it comes to remakes of foreign pictures so as to not sound hypocritical, as one of my favorite films of all time, is nothing more than a remake of a Japanese film.
Now, I haven’t read the book(s) or seen that other film, but something tells me they have to be better than this. That isn’t to say this wasn’t a good film, because it was. However, it did seem to drag on and on without actually getting anywhere, except taking the audience to dreamland. I know that there were more than a few times I nodded off, and not just because I’m under the weather!
So, what worked?
Well, despite being a total snoozefest, this really is a well-crafted film. Each of the characters is well fleshed out and developed.
I’m not if this is a pro or con, but I liked that they actually got actors of Swedish decent (not all of them mind you) to play Swedish characters. There is just something about that authenticity that stands out, as opposed to say an Englishman playing a German, but still talking with is British accent.
The gritty realism of this picture is a real selling point. I hate to say this, but the rape scenes were a high point. Not because she was getting raped, but because they were filmed in such a way that the audience could really feel her pain and disgust!
What didn’t work?
Well, I’ve already mentioned how slow-moving this film is. From what I hear, after talking to some people who actually read the books, things were left out, and some of the more exciting, interesting parts were changed in favor of scenes of exposition. Why would they do this? Your guess is as good as mine!
The oddity of the investigation at first intrigued me, but after a while, it seemed to just be a plot device, and a weak one, at that, especially when you consider the fact that they almost forgot about it at times, in an effort to develop Lisabeth further, and apparently have her start some kind of relationship with Mikael.
When Christopher Plummer’s character says that his family is some of the most vile, evil people one can ever have the bad fortune of knowing, he wasn’t kidding. One wold think, though, that even with these boils on the butt of society, there would be someone who was actually inherently good, besides Henrik.
I’ve always had an issue with these films that end the major mystery part of their plot, then stumble on for another 10-30 minutes with stuff that could have very well been done in a minute or two, probably in montage form, or left out completely. This thing was long enough as it, without the last few minutes that just seemed to be filler.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo just didn’t work for me. True, this picture earned all of the awards and accolades it has received, but that just goes to show you that this is nothing more than one of those artsy fartsy films that is more for the critics than the audiences. While I did not care for this tripe, I can see how some people would and, against my better judgement recommend it.
3 out of 5 stars