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MovieMike's Movie Reviews (83)

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Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The ( Män som hatar kvinnor ) 
Noomi Rapace Kicks Some Serious Butt!
3/4 stars

Sometimes mistakes are a good thing - I got tripped up by a little misunderstanding and ended up catching this great DVD as a result. I had seen a blurb about casting for a film named ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and was just intrigued by the title. In researching it further, it looked like it had already been released and was now available on DVD. Now I was really confused, but ordered it anyway. Come to find out, the current release is a Swedish export (with subtitles, so please note). The casting news I saw is for a US-based remake of the same film due out in 2011. Nonetheless, after watching this, I was thankful for the mix-up.

Swedish author and Expo magazine contributor, Stieg Larsson, had written a few novels before his death and they were printed posthumously. These books became known as the Millennium Trilogy. ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ is from the first book in the series, ‘Men Who Hate Women’. The story centers on Mikael Blomkvist (played quite effectively here by Michael Nyqvist), an investigative reporter for Millennium magazine who has just been sentenced to jail for slandering a major corporate leader. We can see that he’s obviously been set up, but he takes the fall anyway as he’s abandoned by all his associates and has little recourse. At the same time, we get our first glimpse of the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander (an outstanding performance by Noomi Rapace). A prototypical Goth chick, her specialty is investigations as well, but she’s also a proficient computer hacker and electronics geek. As we meet her, she’s been hired to investigate Blomkvist for yet another party seeking to hire him. All this is just for starters.

We learn that a certain business magnate has a mystery he wants solved – the disappearance of his niece that occurred some 40 years ago. Satisfied with the background check, the magnate hires Blomkvist, who begins to dig in where many others have failed. This isn’t a simple mystery movie as there are a number of plot threads and elements that follow along in parallel. Lisbeth has a mysterious back-story of her own and is still struggling with a would-be predator just as Blomkvist begins to realize the depth of his new assignment. Lisbeth is still intrigued with Blomkvist and continues to electronically snoop on his investigation. By pointing out an answer to enigmatic code, she ends up revealing herself to Blomkvist. From there, they develop an unlikely, but believable, relationship.

Being a Swedish export I was unfamiliar with any of the principals, but I have to say this is a very well made movie that demands your attention all along the way. I’ve watched several subtitled films and the best ones make you forget you’re even reading the dialog – this film fits that description. This is not a simple who-done-it, as there are twists aplenty along the way, but I did feel like I was in the board game ‘Clue’ at one point. Most of the acting is excellent and the cinematography made me long to visit Sweden. I did have a problem with the very last little twist as it did come off as a bit too contrived for me, but probably plays into the second part of this trilogy, ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’. This title is available through Netflix or Amazon.com, as are the Swedish productions of the other two related films, ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ and ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest’. If you are adventurous enough to sample a foreign film, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed here.


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