The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This fast-paced gripping thriller begins with the Mikael Blomkvist (yeah, I looked up the spelling) losing everything dear to him in one fell swoop because he printed an unfounded allegation against the billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerström. He finds himself in need of new scenery as the walls out his colleagues' taunts close in on him. His nose for the truth has made him something of a renowned journalist though his past mistakes dare to besmirch that legacy. That renown has reached the ears of Henrik Vanger, a wealthy (to say the least) man whose life’s obsession has been to discover how his niece, Harriet, was murdered.
Blomkvist is resistant as any archetypal hero should be, because he would rather do anything than to be proven desperately wrong again. Vanger’s offer to remit the legal debt that Blomkvist’s libel isn’t enough to pull him into the fray again, but Vanger’s assurance that he can prove Wennerström’s guilt proves too good to pass up.
Enter Lisbeth Salander, a ward of the state and accomplished computer hacker with a grungy past. Her reputation as a no-limits information leech puts her on Vanger’s radar, and he subsequently links her with Blomkvist in order to uncover the mystery of Harriet’s death or abduction.
Blomkvist and Salander are an odd-couple at best. Blomkvist spends his time trying to understand truths, whether it be his daughter’s new relationship with Christ, his publishing girlfriend’s reasons for cheating on her husband with him, or the answers behind Wennerström’s criminal conquests. Salander’s main concern is seizing control of her state-controlled funds, a concern that makes her prey to her guardian, Bjurman. He takes extreme advantage of Lisbeth in the worst way possible, and we see her dragon instincts kick into full gear. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but I’ll just say that I’d rather be trapped in a dark alley with Bjurman than Lisbeth Salander.
The rest of the film is a gripping, will-he-get-caught/shot/laid thriller which aims to please and pulls the trigger with confidence. Daniel Craig’s performance as Mikael Blomkvist is over-shadowed ever so slightly by Rooney Mara’s unflinching portrayal of Lisbeth Salander. During their work together, the team of two forms a bond over bullets and truths. They use modern technology and wits to solve the decades old mystery of a missing girl with a dark history. The film wraps up the mystery about as brilliantly as one can, compliments of the novel writer Stieg Larson’s beautiful plotting.
Though the mystery is solved in a satisfying fashion, the ending of the film itself leaves much to be desired. The last thirty minutes were a rushed jumble of information and blackmail. Upon learning that Vanger cannot hand over Wennerström to Blomkvist as promised, Salander takes matters into her own hands. She changes her appearance drastically and plane-hops in order to forge a major withdrawal in Wennerström’s accounts, somehow proving his guilt and giving her newfound bff, Blomkvist, his man on a silver platter. She gets her heart-broken, like many a heroine does in this situation. Then, the film ends.
I have nothing against romance, but forcing a romantic overtone onto a fast-paced nail biter seems cheap and misplaced, especially since it wasn’t the predominate tone of the movie.
The last thirty minutes notwithstanding, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a fun ride that you kinda don’t want to end, especially not the way it did. Craig and Mara give unforgettable performances of a mix-matched but perfectly compatible duo who know how to tango. There are just the right amount of car chases, explosions, and bullets to make this an action film but just the right amount of intrigue to make it a suspenseful thriller. It’s balanced, even with the unnecessary romance tied into it. If you haven’t seen it (far fewer people than I expected have seen it), make a trip to theaters so that you don’t miss out on this complicated, intriguing foray.
Until the next scene,