Hollywood likes to think that they have the patent on making exciting action thrillers, which is why its so nice to see a film from Sweden that breaks the mold and gives us something different than we've seen from the genre in along time. I'm sure it won't be long till we see an American version of this film and actually ... one is already on the way. It was announced recently that Sony was planning an adaptation written by Oscar winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List"). Actors like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp have shown interest in the lead, personally I'd like to see Russell Crow or Gerard Butler with either Megan Fox or Kristen Stewart in the female role, but that's just me. Even legendary directors like Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Quentin Tarantino have expressed a desire to make an American version of this film and if you watch it you'll know why. It's more visually stimulating, smart and interesting than most of what Hollywood makes and it's certainly more original. This is exactly the type of movie Hollywood would jump at the chance to make.
The film's mysterious dark tones play well with the feel of the picture. The story is intricate but not at all too complicated. There are many twists and turns but like any good plot, at the end of the day it's pretty simple. The acting is fantastic especially by the films leads Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. The characters that they play are so well defined and they act them to perfection with style and grace. While Nyqvist has the job of caring the weight of the film on his back, Rapace has the chance to really shine as his mysterious and unique partner in crime. What the film also does very nicely is builds this likable yet unlikely team in a sort of old school, film noir-type of backdrop. Nyqvist's Blomkvist is smart, commanding and vulnerable while in contrast Rapace's Salander is spunky, sexy and sarcastic. Together the make the perfect on screen duo, they respect each other yet are absolutely attracted to each other and the sexual tension practically fills the air around them. The action between the two characters is almost as good as any explosion in the movie and it certainly keeps the tension building throughout the film.
The movie begins by introducing us to Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist} a middle-aged investigative journalist who writes for the magazine Millennium. After loosing a libel case against a corrupt Swedish businessman, he is sentenced to three months in prison. Before he is sentenced, he is hired by Henrik Vanger, an older, powerful former CEO of a group of companies owned by a wealthy dynasty. Vanger wants Blomkvst to solve the disappearance of Vanger's great-niece who disappeared when she was sixteen almost forty years ago. He is convinced that someone in his own family killed the girl. Blomkvst takes the case and eventually teams up with Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant computer hacker who is also a beautiful young punk. She has been getting in and out of trouble her whole life and has a hard time trusting authority figures. We learn a bit about her background from an unfortunate encounter with her parole officer who abuses her.
Lisbeth and Mikael team up and the two make an unlikely yet classic detective pair. While they investigate the girl's disappearance the two begin to fall for each other but Lisabeth is reluctant when the demons of her past begin to arise. Michael too is conflicted knowing that he will be off to jail soon enough. Eventually as the pair gets closer and closer to the truth they get closer to each other eventually forming a unique and powerful bond. What they ultimately find involving the case of the missing girl will not only shock you but it will change one family forever. As the truth begins to unravel both characters are forced to face their own worst fears in order to get to the end of their case. While they eventually get to the bottom of their investigation and bring the truth to light the question of what will happen between the two main characters and their true feelings for each other still remains.
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is a fast paced, exciting and sexy action thriller that pays off for the audience more than most films in this genre. Nyqvist is extremely compelling and commanding in his role. He has a likable quality that plays through his character and allows the audience to really get inside his head. His vulnerability plays well in contrast to Rapace's strong Lisabeth. In fact, Noomi Rapace gives a really daring and terrific performance as Lisbeth and blends just the right tone of hard-as-nails chick and lost soul. She is especially remarkable in her scenes with her parole officer and portrays the pain and hurt from those encounters exceedingly well throughout the film. The look of the picture is dark and sleek yet fast and stylish, which works well in this mystery/thriller/noir setting. In the end, the film is an exceptional example that great films of this genre can come from anywhere around the world and are not exclusive to the United States. If you like action/thrillers than "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is a must see and do yourself a favor, see it now, don't wait until the American version is made because chances are it just won't be as good as this.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is out February 27, 2009.