DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE (MAN SOM HATAR KVINNOR) (director: Niels Arden Oplev; screenwriters: Rasmus Heisterberg/Nikolaj Arcel/based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; cinematographer: Eric Kress; editors: Anne Osterud/Jannus Billeskov Jansen; music: Jacob Groth; cast: Michael Nyqvist (Mikael Blomkvist), Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander), Peter Haber (Martin Vanger), Ingvar Hirdwall (Frode), Lena Endre (Erika Berger), Sven-Bertil Taube (Henrik Vanger), Peter Andersson (The Lawyer Nils Bjurman), Tomas Köhler (Plague), Ewa Fröling (Harriet Vanger), Björn Granath (Morell, policeman), Marika Lagercrantz (Björn Granath); Runtime: 154; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Soren Staermose; Music Box Films; 2009-Sweden/Denmark/Norway/Germany-in Swedish with English subtitles)

 
"The entire third act seems contrived, unconvincing and not compelling."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

An angry, perverse and dark mystery story about a psychopathic women hater who takes his hatred to extremes. It could have ended at three different junctures, but goes on to leave everything tied up in pretty knots with a feelgood ending. Danish-born director Niels Arden Oplev's ("Worlds Apart") sometimes plodding direction never got me emotionally involved with the main characters and their tragedies, but at least it was kept briskly moving along as it builds to a series of twists in the plot. Oplev bases it on the first volume of the Millennium trilogy best-seller by the late Stieg Larsson. It's written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel, who keep it as mostly a procedural investigative film (heavy on computer savvy) with a few simplistic psychological dollops thrown in to make it seem as if it has some weight.

After celebrated crusading magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is framed for libeling a crooked industrialist and sentenced to three months prison, the disgraced journalist is hired by the dweller of Hedeby Island, the 82-year-old wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), to investigate, before he begins in six months his sentence, what happened to Harried Vanger, Henrik's deceased Nazi brother Gottfried's pretty daughter and his favorite relative in a tightly-knit dysfunctional and hateful family. The industrialist suspects one of his creepy relatives did it, and shows the journalist a photo of a family gathering and says the guilty-party is in the photo. The 16-year-old Harriet's body was never found after her disappearance forty years ago in 1966, but Henrik even though he believes she's dead is troubled that on her birthday every year after her disappearance he receives a pressed flower like she sent when she was alive.

The tattooed in the back with a dragon and covered with body piercings cyberpunk 24-year-old former inmate from a mental ward, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who is on probation as a ward of the state because of her violent history, did the security clearance on Blomkvist for Henrik and decides to help the honest Blomkvist for reasons of her own. The duo link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grisly serial killings that began in the 1940s and one lead after another begins to unravel some ghastly family secrets.

It takes its time to get to all the complexities about the disappearance of Henrik's niece, and on the way covers torture, sadism, rape, mutilation, serial killings, abusive Nazi relatives and corporate corruption. The tracking down of the suspects is inter-cut with scenes of the angry bisexual computer hacker, who is shown both as a vic forced to give a blow job and then as an avenger exacting revenge on her demented lawyer court-appointed guardian (Peter Andersson). The beauty in the film is in the capturing of the frosty island's wintry climate that sets its chilling mood and the explosive riveting performance by Rapace, who manages to make her character spicy as through her ferocity she overcomes how glibly the filmmaker explains her mental troubles. The film's biggest fault is that it goes on for too long, well-after it should have ended, and the entire third act seems contrived, unconvincing and not compelling. But despite its many flaws and falling apart before it reached the wire, it still has enough juice to keep it enjoyable as a traditional thriller but loaded with shocking scenes. 

REVIEWED ON 5/15/2010       GRADE: B 

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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