I’d Buy That for a Dollar: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I debated watching this movie for two reasons. One, David Fincher (one of my favorite directors) is working on a remake with Daniel Craig, and this being a mystery/thriller, I didn’t necessarily want all the juicy stuff spoiled for me. Two, it’s a trilogy, therefore after viewing the first one I’m contractually obligated to watch two more movies. Alas, I caved because I’m tired of hearing about the Swedish phenomenon and finally wanted to know what the fuss was about. After securing a copy from redbox, it turns out, I still don’t know what the fuss is about.

As you might have heard already, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the adaptation of the first book from the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. The books are enormously successful and the movies have already made quite a chunk of change worldwide. In the U.S., the first two films have been modest art house hits with the third one scheduled for release by the end of the year. (I am not looking forward to the next two movies – The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.)

The twin heroes of the story are Mikael, a recently disgraced journalist, and the (apparently) notorious Lisbeth Salander, a punk/hacker/goth with a troubled past. They team up, for no good reason, to solve the mystery of a 16-year old girl who vanished 40 years ago. The mystery is the best and most interesting part of the movie and I’m sure it is the main reason the series is so popular. Like Twin Peaks, Law & Order, and CSI before it, people love the formula of crime, clues, and eventual justice, and I am one of those people. (But not CSI, that show is awful.)

What happened to Harriet? Who is she looking at in that photo? What do the numbers in her journal mean? And what’s with all the Nazis? All of this is good pulpy stuff, and I love good pulpy stuff.

The problems are in the first and last acts, which seem bloated and pointless. The beginning takes way too long to get Mikael and Lisbeth in the same room together, and when they finally do it’s not really explained as to why Lisbeth is involved in the first place. With Mikael, there is some reason for him to solve the case (other than monetary), but it is altogether unconvincing.

But wait, before they can start sniffing out clues we have to spend 20 minutes watching Lisbeth get sexually abused so we can… I don’t know… watch Lisbeth get sexually abused? The story was originally titled, Men Who Hate Woman, (which makes more sense than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but both titles are bad) so I can kind of see how they’re thematically trying to connect Lisbeth to the rest of the plot (movies got a lot of rape) but I didn’t really care. There’s a case to solve damn it, we’ll deal with your “issues” later.

So, eventually the hacker and the journalist meet up, things get interesting, and the case gets solved (a little predictably, I might add). Credits should be rolling…what?! There’s forty more minutes of movie left. This thing is 2 ½ hours long? Why? What the hell? I don’t want to spoil anything, but during the last forty minutes a whole lot of nothing good happens.

Well, MINOR SPOILER, just as an example of how idiotic the end gets.  Lisbeth hits the villain with a golf club, then she lets him run to his car and drive away. She, after letting him go in the first place, gives chase on her motorcycle. What was she going to do, ram him? Make him pull over? I guess just follow him to the police station. END MINOR SPOILER

Some of the back story (the rape stuff) might be important as the movies/books continue, but in a mystery film such as this, it’s just fat (especially if we’re not finding out more until later). If this is just the tip of the iceberg, then you’ve got to give me a little more than mere implications. You’ve got to do something to make it worth my while. If Law & Order can give me the same experience, 12 times a day, in only 45 minutes (without quite as much rape), then why am I going to watch 2 more of your movies? (Which I totally have to now.)

Mr. Fincher, please make this better.

Grade: C-


2 responses to “I’d Buy That for a Dollar: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  1. Pingback: Fall Preview: 25 Films I Can’t Wait to See #5-1 | Shooting the Script

  2. Pingback: Men Who Hate Women Who Text During Movies – “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and Other Thoughts | Shooting the Script

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