Film Review
By Séamus Smyth

A film that is much greater than just the tale of a woman with Gothic ink running down her thigh, along with other variations of mysterious imagery scattered across her tortured body, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” is a pulsating scream of pleasure that swerves the viewer through multiple extremes of emotion.

Daniel Craig asserts himself early on as leading man Mikael Blomkvist who is introduced as a journalist in boiling hot water after losing a major court battle, resulting in a severely bruised writing reputation. Blomkvist had attempted to take out a man known as Wennstrom, a conniving and ruthless businessman, but after Blomkvist’s key sources proven to be unfounded, he is left humiliated.

To the dismay of his editor/lover he quickly begins searching for the darkest rock to climb under, but his sanity is rescued when an affluent Swedish man presents an unsolved mystery that he believes Blomkvist is capable of solving.

Henrik Vanger explains that his Scandinavian family has been missing a dearly-loved family member for over thirty years and he is desperate to find out what happened to her before he is laid to rest. Considering the length of time since the disappearance, Blomkvist is skeptical to put it lightly. Yet when Vanger assures him that if he were to solve the riddle that has menaced his family for decades, he would provide information on Wennstrom that would bury him forever.

Blomkvist bites and immediately begins researching the Vanger family tree who turn out to be an incredibly irritable bunch and worst yet, horribly dysfunctional. Despite the ornery family members, Blomkvist’s interest intensifies as the clues slowly pile up, but it becomes clear that he will need an assistant; enter Rooney Mara playing Lisbeth Salander, aka the girl you don’t want to mess with on your best day.

The girl with the dragon tattoo also has the heart of a lion and the mind of a CIA agent and immediately improves the hunt for the missing girl as she slowly warms to Blomkvist’s purist nature and workhorse attitude. Her hatred of anyone that would dare raise a hand towards an innocent female, including herself, jacks up the intensity of the case and makes Blomkvist a believer in a successful outcome and even perhaps, a secret admirer of the young femme.

The sexual scenes displayed in the first installment of this trilogy range from repulsive and shocking to lustful and surprising. A horrific rape scene that takes place in the first half of the film is excruciating to sit through, but one’s conscience takes a lift once the pedophile posing as a social worker is given a taste of his own poisonous medicine.

It’s a sharp, modern, character-driven story that refuses to go at any pace other than maximum capacity. One’s hair is practically blowing in the wind due to the high velocity of the flick that never really subsides, thanks in part to the brilliant score provided by director David Fincher’s musical henchmen, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The music is edgy, suspenseful and clever, all traits that the film as a whole exudes throughout the furious 158 minutes.