Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Photo: Music Box Films

Like Let the Right One In a couple of years ago, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes from Sweden and is already looking at an American remake. The film is based on the novel written by the late Stieg Larsson kicking off his Millennium trilogy of stories. While this film has found considerable praise since first being released in Sweden in 2009, it’s more of a good story than an overly accomplished film. None of the cast members particularly stand out and it could have certainly been tightened up from its 152-minute runtime, but as far as murder mysteries go you could do much worse.

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev with a script adaptation by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, the film tells two separate stories that become one as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is hired to solve a 40-year-old missing person case all while Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a young female hacker, previously hired to investigate Blomkvist, takes a particular interest in his work.

The film has its moments of intrigue and it doesn’t shy from realism as it earns what will most certainly be an R-rating once the MPAA gets around to handing a rating out, though never seems exploitive. However, nothing along the way ever surprises the audience or comes as unexpected. Certainly details stick in the back of your mind throughout, coming into play in later stages of the picture and ultimately resulting in a ho-hum if not perfectly reasonable conclusion. I can see, however, the novelized translation of the story holding up better although I have been told even that gets a bit tedious in the opening half of the story.

The acting is satisfactory with Michael Nyquist as the stoic, done good journalist doing an old man a favor before he is expected to serve jail time after losing a libel case as writing for “Millennium” magazine. Noomi Rapace as the punk rock hacker Lisbeth serves as the film’s title character, but why her character is deserving of such distinction here is unknown to me, although I know her character becomes the centerpiece of the rest of Larsson’s trilogy. Rapace serves her role and never stumbles, but for a film involving murder, rape and kidnapping it’s relatively safe and never tries for too much. In short, it would have been hard for anyone involved to have made much of a mess of things considering the film never seems to try too hard to go outside the box.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a decent enough film, I guess I was just expecting something new from a film that has earned good word of mouth and has become an international bestseller. Nothing about this film tends to tread any kind of untouched territory, but for what it’s worth it’s a satisfactory entry in the murder mystery genre.



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