January 11, 2012 -- I finally decided to see this remake of the 2009 film, based on the popular Stieg Larsson novels, even though I just saw the original film last year. The remake is getting some awards buzz. It is definitely a case of déjà vu seeing this story again. It isn't quite identical to the original Swedish language movie (Män som hatar kvinnor) starring Noomi Rapace, but it is very close to an exact copy.
I'm not going to do a side-by-side comparison of the two films, but I will say the new film is flashier that the first, with sharper editing, more montages, better cinematography and better graphics. The dark animated opening title sequence reminded me a bit of the sick animation in the film “Pink Floyd: The Wall” (1982). The opening sequence is a disquieting way to open a very dark movie in a very dark series of films. If you get your rocks off seeing women brutally raped and beaten, this is your kind of film.
The film is about a Swedish journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (played by star of the latest James Bond films, Daniel Craig; in the original film, the character was played by Michael Nyqvist) who has lost a libel suit against a powerful financier. Disgraced, he quits his magazine, Millenium (the book series is called the Millenium series). Unexpectedly, he then gets a lucrative offer of employment from a powerful industrialist, Henrik Vanger (Chrstopher Plummer of “The Last Station”). Vanger says he has the goods on the man who sued Mikael for libel, so he takes the job.
Mikael's new job is to investigate a missing persons case that is 40 years old. He manages to dig up some clues and needs an assistant to help him investigate further. Vanger believes his niece, Harriet, was murdered some 40 years ago. She disappeared and her body was never found. Mikael chooses the same investigator who Vanger employed to investigate him so effectively, a social outcast and skilled computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara of “The Social Network”). Using a clever combination of force and incentives, Mikael is able to persuade Lisbeth to help him, and she proves more than helpful. The two become lovers as well as research partners.
The investigation into Harriet's disappearance turns up a number of murders linked to the Vanger family going back to the 1940s. Many of the murders follow a Biblical pattern, based on punishments in the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Mikael begins to focus on a series of photographs taken on the day that Harriet disappeared. He uses the photos to track down even more photos, some of which haven't been seen for years. This leads him to clues about the killer.
Even though I knew the story from the previous movie, the power of this murder mystery is still very strong, and I had forgotten some of the story too. Craig and Mara provide good solid performances, along with rest of the cast, including Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Stellan Skarsgård and Robin Wright, who play other pivotal characters in the film. It should be noted that the original title of the book on which this movie is based translates as “Men Who Hate Women.” There is a good deal of misogyny in this story, along with graphic scenes of rape, torture, violence, sex and nudity.
The dark nature of this story is one of the reasons I was not anxious to see it again. I actually wish I had not seen it again, even though it is probably made a little better than the first film. I was hoping this film would not be as dark as the first one, but it is. I can't help but think the evil depicted in this film stains me somehow. It rates a B. Enough of this.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.