Fincher brings action, drama in 'Dragon Tattoo'

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It all began with a thrilling crime trilogy from the mind of bestselling author, Stieg Larsson. Taking place in Sweden, the series was published posthumously after Larsson endured a fatal heart attack in 2004. Europeans were enrapt with the story long before Americans knew of their existence.
Two film adaptations of the first novel later, the world of Swedish corruption and investigative adventures has become an intriguing place in which to disappear.
David Fincher, director of Se7en, lends The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a sleek, somewhat realistic atmosphere. Beginning with a disturbing but visually interesting artistic introduction (typical of most Fincher films), the film wastes very little time in jumping into the plot.
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara lend star power to the trilogy’s already-intriguing main characters, the dynamic duo of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. An investigative journalist for Millenium magazine – a rogue publication critical of corporations and conglomerates in Sweden – Blomkvist faces a conviction for libelous statements about Hans-Erik Wennerstrom, a corporate elitist in command of billions in profit.
Defeated and forced to pay an extravagant fee in damages, Blomkvist resigns from his post at Millenium until he receives a call from elderly Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) who needs assistance solving an eerie family mystery. His niece, Harriet, disappeared while staying at the family estate in Hedestad in the 1960’s, and after an exhaustive search for her body, no motive can be determined for her alleged murder.
Nazi sympathizers, serial killers, estranged family members, and corrupt financiers all have an important role in the thickened plot, as each discovery leads Blomkvist further down the Vanger rabbit hole.
Salander, a tattooed, bisexual computer hacker deals with her own misfortunate situation as a ward of the state. Her guardian carries out a milieu of sexual crimes that have given the film a controversial air. The revenge exacted on his character is well worth the discomfort felt while viewing such sadistic behavior.
Sexual encounters in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo occur without warning and as often and casually as a handshake between friends. This may be off-putting for some viewers, but its usage stems more from a cultural characteristic of European society than for the sake of suggestive material.
A partnership between Blomkvist and Salander is not forged until the midpoint of this three-hour movie. Finding himself in need of a computer savvy research assistant, Blomkvist cannot decide what to make of his surly new companion.
With a hatred of men gleaned from her past sexual abuse, Salander helps Blomkvist narrow down the suspects, and the plot is resolved long before the side story of Hans Erik Wennerstrom’s demise is complete.
The most redeeming factor of the entire trilogy is Salander’s tenacious, lethal, badass character. She is completely devoid of any conventional qualities or behaviors, which is refreshing in a time when many female characters – even when originally written as trailblazers – are adapted into sex kittens for the silver screen.