The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is quite an interesting film. It's really no different in style or tone from most adult crime thrillers, reminding me of Red Dragon and Nolan's Insomnia. The mystery is exciting, and while I could see where it was going about 1/3 of the way through, it was still satisfying and never dull.
Let me get this one qualm out of the way first, though. There are two rape scenes in Act One that I felt had little to no impact on the story. These rape scenes, graphic and humiliating, did nothing for either character or plot. There are other scenes in the film that give us an idea of who the titular girl, Lisbeth Salander, is, what makes her tick, etc. The rape scenes are from a completely different film, a grittier film that was more character study than crime thriller. And while the filmmakers are doing an admirable job of giving us completely developed protagonists, those rape scenes alienated and appalled me. Call me a prude, say I missed the point, whatever. I don't approve.
Now that's out of the way, I can continue with my praise. And there is much to admire about this film. As I said, it's a great mystery, and the clues are all there for you to sift there. There's little "cheating" as far as that goes. Noomi Rapace is quite good in the role of Lisbeth, a punk hacker with secrets and sleuthing skills. Michael Nyqvist is the other sleuth, Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist employed to solve a forty-year-old mystery surrounding a disappearance, and he is fantastic. With rumors of a remake, all I've read are people wondering how they can get an actress as good as Noomi Rapace. For me, it's matching the subtle but sizable contributions of Nyqvist that's the real challenge. He's the pulse of the film, and while it's Lisbeth who brings to light most of the social commentary, Mikael is the one to watch.
The performances really anchor the movie, which is sometimes fantastically-directed and effectively-lit, while at other times resembling Season Three of the PBS Marple series: a little murky, a little too insistent on making you sure you understand the importance of certain objects by cutting to them constantly. So strange. The score, too, starts out beautifully, and has a great main theme going throughout, but distracts at other times. It's like there's a school for scoring thrillers, and woe to him that challenges the accepted teachings.
But overall? A great movie. Inconsistent tonally sometimes, but I'd see it again. If David Fincher really does direct the American version, though, it will be a decided improvement, one that I will look forward to.