If you have already read the book by Stieg Larsson and decide to see this movie, you will not be disappointed. I generally do not like to go see movies if I have already read the book, (The Help, Lincoln Lawyer, most recently) since I am always comparing the two. Usually, I like the book much better. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, was not one of these times.
I should also admit that I did not see the original version done in Swedish with English subtitles. I understand that they were phenomenal (this is a trilogy), and many find the Swedish version better than the American (even with the annoyance of subtitles). I now plan on renting it to see if I agree.
The story (screenplay by Steven Zaillian)however, in any version, does not change. This is a story of a disgraced investigative journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) who teams up with a gothic styled computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) to investigate the long-ago disappearance and possible murder of Harriet, the beloved 16-year old niece of their wealthy industrialist employer. Their employer, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), is the patriarch of a highly dysfunctional family. He seeks out Mikael Blomkvist to search for his niece who vanished 40 years ago with no apparent explanation for her disappearance. Somehow someone mysteriously sends a picture of pressed flowers to him every year on his birthday, just like Harriet did when she was alive. Mikael is being asked to look at this strange event and see if he can come up with an answer that no one else has been able to do. To entice him to take on this task, he is promised damaging information on the man who has just won a libel verdict against him. He will get enough information to set the record straight and earn him back his reputation and his magazine Millenium in the process.
The woman whom he hires to help him with this investigation is Lisbeth Salander, played superbly by Rooney Mara. She is an ace tracker and hacker who only wants to be able to control her own life instead of having to SUBMIT to her lowly case worker and do unspeakable acts, just to get her own money which he controls. It should be said here that some of the scenes are very graphic with violent content, including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language.
Lisbeth’s revenge on Bjurman (Yorick Van Wageningen), her case worker, is something to be seen, or not- depending on your taste. It is her sense of justice that compels her to use her skills to look where others would never have bothered, to track a murderer of women whom nobody actually suspected of existing before Blomkvist points her in the right direction. Together the two investigators work well. However, for me, there was a lack of spark between them, even when they ‘fell into bed together’. I also felt there was a total lack of warmth of Lisbeth Salander, being my only criticisms of the film. It is only near the end of the movie that you feel there is actually a person living inside her body that has any true feelings of her own for anyone else.
The film also has a great supporting cast. Most notably, Martin Vanger, the brother of the patriarch who has some mysteries of his own, played by Stellan Skarsgard, and Erika Berger the other co- owner of the Millenium Magazine with Mikael Blomkvist who is also his sometime lover, played by Robin Wright.
There is no question that this is a movie worth seeing whether you have read the book or not. Just be fore-warned that the film does not spare the viewer any of the violence found on the page.