Warning: viewers with a weak stomach will be tempted to leave a few times during the first act of this movie. And who can blame them: it’s overly violent, plotless, unstructured and clunky. But stick around, because The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo gets good. Really good.
This Swedish import, based on the smash bestseller by Stieg Larsson, is a film that, at two and a half hours, takes it’s time evolving. But once it hits its stride, you’ll know why you paid the price for admission.
We’re introduced to two characters: Mikael is a controversial journalist who has been freshly convicted of malice against a public official. Lisbeth is a skinny, gothed-out little hottie hacker who was hired to find out as much dirt on Mikael as possible. Why? I’m not too sure, maybe I lost something in translation. Anyway, Mikael is soon hired by a wealthy, dying man who has always wondered what happened to his niece who was murdered decades ago. Who killed her, and why?
This is no ordinary rich dude. He lives on a huge estate with his very rich, very reclusive family who he pins as the main suspects in his niece’s disappearance. But, he pays well, so Mikael is game for the challenge.
To explain how Lisbeth and Mikael come to start working together is to give some of the fun away, so let me just say that once the two start really digging into the details of the case, the film hits a stride that can be mentioned in the same breath as Hitchcock. There are enough twists and turns to please any audience member, and a climax that’ll leave you speechless.
As I’ve already mentioned, my main problems with the movie are the character introductions, namely Lisbeth’s. If a director feels it HAS to be done, then sexual violence in a film should be done… tastefully, if that makes sense. Rape is the one thing I cannot stand to watch on film, but if done right, with justified reasoning, then it may come off as acceptable (much like Irreversible). Such is not the case here. I have no idea why director Niels Arden Oplev decides to hold one particular scene forever, and then have an even longer, more grisly, resolution.
But oh well. Let it pass and enjoy the rest of the ride. I hear David Fincher just signed on to direct the American version. And while those are capable hands, I have to ask: why not just leave it the hell alone? This version is great as is. A