When a film actually feels long, it’s never a good sign. The problem with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is that it takes far too long to build momentum. It is only in the second third of the film that pace is generated; prior to this there is exposition and little else.
The film centres around the mystery of a missing young girl, disappeared decades before from her wealthy family. What distinguishes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo most from others in the murder mystery mould is the explicitness in not only the crimes that are discovered, but also in the violence that is depicted. At times, the graphic nature of the violence and sadism on display is difficult to watch. Unlike movies such as Saw, which seems to function on the ‘gore for entertainment’ premise, it is hard to see what is gained from such graphic scenes. Murder mystery for the Hostel generation perhaps.
The selling point of the books and this subsequent film appears to be the central character of Lisbeth. With her shadowy background and non-conformist appearance, Lisbeth is a researcher and hacker who is drawn into the case after completing research on reporter Michael Blomkvist, who is originally tasked with the case. With her piercings and tattoos, Lisbeth may seem a world away from Miss Marple, yet there is little more to her beyond this outsider persona.
The film is the first instalment of a trilogy, so presumably more will be revealed about Lisbeth and her background. The ending of this film, however, feels protracted; it goes on at least fifteen minutes longer than what appears to be a logical conclusion. Whilst the next two films may pick up the pace, it is questionable how many viewers will return after this mediocre start.