The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Swedish people are really messed up.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and rebellious computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) team up to investigate the unsolved disappearance of wealthy Henrik Vanger’s (Sven-Bertil Taube) teen niece (Ewa Fröling), only to uncover dark secrets about Vanger’s powerful family.

I never read the book that this film is based off of and I probably never will, because I just am that cool but for a film that is being remade by David Fincher, it’s not as amazing as I was expecting.

This movie clocks in at about 152 minutes but I honestly didn’t feel bored at all. There is a lot of crazy stuff happening but you still have no idea what’s quite going to happen next considering that this story has so many mysterious and “whodunit” elements to it, that’s its pretty easy to get into it with a clear mind that something effed if going to go down at the end of this film.

Director Niels Arden Oplev did a great job with how the film takes time with its story and gives us time to see these characters for who they are before they have to go down in this case. Instead of just being a whole bunch of separate stories that somehow come together by the end of the film, the story is one single plot and goes on and transitions between both leads. This was a good element to the film and for anybody going into this expecting to be uber pissed because of the whole subtitles thing, well I can assure you that within the first 15 minutes, you forget that they are even there.

What I liked most about this film was the fact that it was able to be dark, mean, angry, and just plain and simply dirty but never seem raunchy or gritty. There’s a certain style to this film that shines through right away from the first shot to the last and how that mood is able to stay alive throughout the whole film and never seem tired, really shows what Oplev can do as a director. He’s got lots and lots of style here but never does it feel overly-stylized.

My main problem with this film is the fact that I think it focused more on ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ rather than the actual story at hand and the other dude, Mikael Blomkvist. The film is all about this murder case, which it never really loses sight of in the first place, but it’s almost as if when Lisbeth and Mikael meet, its all about what Lisbeth does for this case and how much of a crazy-ass she is, nothing for this dude Mikael.

Mikael seems like a cool character as well and he’s done pretty well by Michael Nyqvist, so it’s sort of a shame to see that this character is basically second-in-command when it comes to this story. The guy has a huge case in the beginning of the film that’s already resolved within the first two minutes, the fact that he beds around all of these chicks is hardly mentioned, and even when him and Lisbeth start this sexy little romance they got going on, it more or less just focuses on her and how she feels all about it. Poor Mikael, all he wanted was the spot-light.

The film also starts to lose itself a bit in the end as it goes right on for that slasher/gory and bloody type of ending that doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you’re really trying to shock the hell out of your audience. Speaking of shocking, for those people who have a problem with such subject as rape, torture, misogyny, racism, and all of those other grand and beautiful things, you may be a little pissed off at this film but I’m betting you would already know what to expect if you were going to watch it in the first place.

The real reason to see this film and why it got the notice that it did was all because of this crazy chick right here playing Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace. This character is a total bad-ass because she does not stand for anything that effs with her and the way Rapace brings this toughness to her in the first place is really something that shows talent within an actress. Not only is she a bad-ass though, she is also very smart when it comes to hacking so she’s not only an ass-kicker but also the brains behind everything as well which makes her even more of a force to be reckoned with. If I saw this chick in real-life, I really wouldn’t know what to do, except maybe run away and look for the nearest hiding-spot so she couldn’t find me and take advantage of me, and I’m not talking about the good way either.

Consensus: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a long film that is entertaining due to Noomi Rapace’s performance as Lisbeth Salanders and a direction that is not only stylized but mysterious as well, however the film suffers by the fact that it follows Lisbeth too much and almost forgets about it’s other main character completley, Mikael. Still, I can’t wait to see what Fincher can do with this flick.



  1. I watched this film last week and thoroughly loved it – I watched each film in the trilogy over consecutive evenings and found it to be an utterly enthralling experience. If you’ve planned to do so too, Dan, you’ll find it fascinating how they all link together. If you haven’t, I suggest you do.

  2. I actually thought they balanced Lisbeth and Blomqvist quite well, considering that he’s the center of the story but the movie is actually named after her. So yes, there is some confusion as to who the protagonist is, but I thought it was handled well.
    I agree with you on Rapace’s performance. She was spot on with the character I pictured from the book.

  3. I just started on the novel last night, and it’s kind of addictive, lol… My best friend owns this Swedish trilogy on DVD, though, so I’ll definitely see all three of those at some point. It’s good to hear that Noomi Rapace really delivers. Still, I’m focusing on Fincher’s version right now. I’m itching to see the atmosphere he gives this world.

    Lovely write-up! 🙂

  4. The book is actually pretty damn good. You have probably heard this before but I’ll say it again: the book is a lot better than the movie.
    One of the main points of your criticism is that the film does not give Mikael Blomvkist a fair amount of air time to develop his story and give us an insight about his emotions. In the book it is actually the opposite as I felt there was a stronger connection to that character than to Lisbeth.
    I believe the problem is that the original title was changed to be commercialized overseas. It went from “Men Who Don’t Love Women” (an inferior title yes, but the original nonetheless) to the one we know today. Perhaps the change forced any cinematic effort to push the Lisbeth story a little more in detriment of Mikael’s.
    I am waiting for Fincher’s take and hoping it is a bit better than this one. I have high hopes because Fincher seems to do very well when directing films with stories others have written, rather than with original screenplays.


  5. Nice Review Dan.
    I really like this movie. Rapace is awesome. I don’t mind the fact that it focused so much on Lisbeth,the title is after-all about her.
    Not really sure I want to see the remake, I am a bit anti remake no matter who the director is.

  6. I haven’t watched this because I want to see the new version that’s coming to theaters. My husband has watched all three of the Swedish movies in this series and enjoyed them. He thought this one was the best.

  7. “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a well made film. Entertaining, well-paced, it made me think of old police procedurals like “Naked City.” In fact, I’m not sure why Hollywood has to re-make this…. Seems sort of disrespectful to me. I could see if the film was horrible, but it just feels like Hollywood wants to capitalize on ticket sales. I don’t know, that may be extremely cynical, but why re-make a movie that did the story justice in the first place?

  8. I reviewed this movie this past summer. I hope the remake is as good as this one. The upcoming American version looks extremely similar to this one based on the trailers.

    Good review.

  9. I found this to be a superb mystery thriller – the characters were very well depicted, the narrative pacing was brilliant thus ensuring great buildup of suspense, and the mood & atmosphere created greatly helped in further enhancing overall viewing experience. And not to forget, terrific performances by the leads. On account of this film, I even ended up buying & reading the entire Millennium trilogy. I’m curious as regards the American remake, especially given the cast & crew.

  10. I got to the end of the movie and found the mystery to still be what the film truly was all about. Lisbeth, the mystery of the murdered girl, the journalist’s story…smh…there was still just a lot going on that didn’t still make sense by the time I got to the end. An intense thriller, but it left me scratching my head. Does that make any sense? I’d have to say “amen” to your consensus in that matter!

    it’s one of the main reasons I want to watch the new one. (I never read the novels)

  11. whats disrespectful is the absolute disregard oplev has for larssons novel. He left out a major plot point, leaves out character nuances, relationships, even the cat, whole sections of character interaction and to top it off? Gratuitous violence, his Lisbeth has the sexuality of a wilted carrot leaning in a bowl of moldy tapioca, not like the book at all. I prefer Rapaces “look” over Maras, but Craig is convincing as is Finchers Lisbeth.Oplevs Lisbeth isnt Larssons, shes an invention of a megalomaniacal Danish director. I hate Finchers “tude” but his art is tops….this version, this
    american version is more true to the novel and more “european” than the original, when a film like oplevs takes so much poetic license with a film////he recreates it in his own tepid manner. His Lisbeth lacks vitriol and madness, Mara injects the Fincher version with Larssons own, they mix…..product placement aside, the “US” version is more European, the Swedish is like a Hollywood B movie with a hot actress. Nothing more.

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