Noomi Rapace investigates a murder while fighting her own demons in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Niels Arden Oplev directs this Swedish mystery based on the novel by the late Stieg Larsson.
Fierce crime thriller
Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) is a hacker who wears spikes, nose rings and a sprawling dragon tattoo over her back. Intrigued by a clue, she invites herself to join an investigation led by disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Swedish star Michael Nyqvist), who just lost a libel case to a shady business tycoon.
Salander fascinates and soon captures your heart. She’s thin, sinewy and angry, but with a gentleness beneath. Known as Sweden’s best hacker, she’s a bisexual Iron Woman.
Blomkvist, the quiet, unassuming detective alongside Salander, is soon smitten. Together they delve into the 40-year-old murder of Harriet, who was the 16-year-old niece of billionaire Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube).
Cruelly, the killer sends Vanger a pressed flower every year, just as Harriet did when she was alive. There’s even more intrigue as Vanger heads a wealthy family filled with neo-Nazis.
On the day Harriet disappeared, the only access road to the family’s island compound was blocked. Vanger is certain that one of them is guilty.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is filled with violent scenes. There are two especially brutal, sadistic rapes. Salander strikes back against vicious Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), assigned to be her guardian after a psychiatric incident in her childhood.
Salander is a fiery survivor and feminist heroine. The film’s theme turns out to depict violence against women, and the different ways that women choose to overcome violence.
Oplev keeps the action and the story moving. He asked his screenwriters to pare down the novel’s complex plot. Salander enlivens the female lead, whether she’s racing along on her motorcycle or reuniting with her invalid mother.
Dragon Tattoo succeeds as fascinating psychological thriller and criminal hunt. Frenzied computer searches are interspersed with scenes of dark, gloomy mansions and simple, decent Swedish neighbors. It scarcely seems to be over two hours long.
This film captured the European box office before opening in America. Larsson’s title is a major international bestseller. Rapace has won several international awards. (3 out of 5 stars)
If you like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you might enjoy: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2009 / NR (violence, sex, brutality, sadism) / 2 hrs, 32 min
Cast Overview: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Marika Lagercrantz
Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Genres: Action, Mystery, Suspense Thriller, Crime Thriller, Foreign, Foreign Thrillers
Language: Swedish with English subtitles