Before you ask, no I haven’t read any of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series nor have I seen any of the Swedish adaptations starring Noomi Rapace.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a pretty standard whodunit with two exceptions: some graphic scenes/imagery and the performance of Rooney Mara as cyber heroine Lizbeth Salander. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to help solve the disapperance of his favorite niece Harriet 36 years earlier. Blomkvist later hires Salander, who went above and beyond the call of duty in her background check of him, to assist him in solving the mystery.
The movie doesn’t really get going until almost 90 minutes in when Lizbeth and Mikhail team up. Until then, we are treading water with Mikhail slowly figuring out what might have happened to Harriet and learning about Lizbeth. Mara plays up Lizbeth’s antisocial aspects well. She never says or does any more than she has to at any given moment. She’s on guard with everyone (for some with good reason).
There’s a few sexual assaults in the film and, as they were playing out, I began to think (maybe hope) that the crimes wouldn’t be shown, only implied (maybe with sound behind a door or something). Then I realized that I was watching a film by David Fincher (Seven, Zodiac, Panic Room) and that we would see whatever the MPAA would let us.
There are two main stories going on – Blomkvist’s libel case and the case of Harriet – with Lizbeth slowly making her way into both. If the film had just been about Lizbeth and the mystery, it would have been one of the better movies of 2011 but the parts of the movie dealing with the Blomkvist story brings it down. The last 15 minutes or so feels like a tacked-on epilogue. I’m sure the story is prominent in the book (and I hope it’s interwoven better) but in the film, it is kind of a boring way to end after the action at the Vanger estate.
That said, I hope that Fincher, Craig and Mara are back for The Girl Who Played with Fire, the next story in Millennium trilogy.
One side note: it bothered me that Daniel Craig was unwilling to commit to an accent. Despite being named Mikael Blomkvist, Craig stuck with his natural British accent. Plummer did a slight German accent and Mara flirted with something resembling a foreign accent but Craig basically said, “No. Mikael’s British now.”