Don’t mess with computer hackers, especially one who’s a girl sporting body piercings, a dragon tattoo and a really bad attitude. In a nutshell, that is the message of the Swedish hit novel-turned-film, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Released from confinement after committing a brutal, but justified atrocity, Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is a ticking bomb, which soon explodes on her abusive guardian (Peter Andersson). She then forms an alliance with discredited investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to solve a cold-case crime involving the missing niece of wealthy semi-retired industrialist Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube). The old man lives in the Swedish boondocks with a bunch of creepy relatives, worthy of the Addams Family.
Following a trail of photo enlargements and computer clues, the unlikely duo keep circling back to the likely guilt of Henrik’s own weird housemates. Along the way, we learn more of the bizarre background of Lisabeth. It all comes together in a complex, but intriguing puzzle.
“Dragon” is based on the novel by Stieg Larson, who wrote two others to complete the trilogy before he died. Like the book, the film often erupts in sado-masochistic violence directed at the misogyny which seems to be a motivating force in the world. Larson and Danish director Niels Arden Oplev use Lisabeth and Mikael as the Dark Knights out to expose and vanquish the evil. It’s no wonder that Larson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was originally titled, “Men Who Hate Women.”
The rumor mill has it that “Dragon” is set to get the Hollywood treatment. More frightening than the violence in the Swedish version is the thought of a, say, Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie vehicle. If you are strong of stomach, see “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” before it’s re-made slick, dull and dead.