‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Retro Review

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist

Plot: A wealthy retired industrialist recruits a high profile but disgraced journalist to investigate the 40 year old disappearance of his niece. Hitting dead ends, the journalist approaches expert hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Review: As great as the book is, ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ is a needlessly over-drawn experience. Pointless details about business dealings and conspiracy’s flesh out the story but can be totally mind-numbing. The movie on the other hand sits at a hefty two and half plus hours, yet whips along at a cracking pace, leaving the deadweight of the novel a distant memory, and condenses the complex murder thriller into a more manageable and exciting tale.

Putting the justifiably best-selling story on side (in summary – disgraced journo and nutso computer hacker team up to solve a decades old murder mystery), the strength in the movie stems from the casting. Every character, no matter how minor, is pitch perfect and feel as though they have walked straight off the page onto the screen. Performances are top-notch and the ensemble bounce of each other easily. Poster child Noomi Rapace is an automatic international star with her sharp and deadly portrayal of the titular Lisbeth Salandar. A complex and enigmatic, larger than life character, Rapace spent seven months preparing for the role, including getting all the piercings (sadly not the awesome dragon tatt) and her work shows. A spindly, prickly yet vulnerable performance that is unlikely to be matched in the US remake.

The rapid paced mystery unfolds with well presented visual montages and sweeping landscape shots, jumping from location to location until we reach a fevered, disturbing finale. The only thing keeping this from being a nine or ten star film is knowing what was coming. I’d advise seeing the film first, then reading the novel if you want more detail.