As an avid fan of the Millennium Series, I was excited when an english version of The Girl with Dragon Tattoo came to screen. I tried watching the Swedish version, but I’m one of those people who can’t watch a movie with subtitles alone, and unfortunately I don’t speak Swedish (yet).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (also titled “Men who Hate Women”) is a great book and a wonderful introduction to the crime series as a whole. Stieg Larsson was a wonderful writer and the fact that he didn’t live to see these books become extremely popular is a sad fact.

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The film follows the book in terms of plot.  Mikael Blomkvist is a Swedish journalist that manages to get into a bit of political, legal, and financial trouble when he (and the newspaper he works for) prints a story that is supposedly more fiction than fact. After he is convicted of libel, he takes a break as editor of the Millennium.  This is where Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) comes into the story.  Forty years before the story starts, his family (who, admittedly, are not the best people in the world) suffers a tragedy — his niece, Harriet, goes missing during a family gathering.  For forty years, Henrik searches for clues on who murdered his favorite niece.

Henrik employs Mikael to write his biography — with a “secret” mission of solving the murder that has plagued him for more than half his life.

Mikael is portrayed by Daniel Craig, who does an amazing job of bringing the disgraced journalist to life.  He manages to capture the disgruntled investigator’s personality while bringing his own charisma to the screen.

Then there is the character of Lisbeth Salander. The actress, Rooney Mara, portrays this anti-social hacker perfectly. From her lack of trust in the government to her stiff but genuine respect for her initial guardian, Lisbeth is a female character that may not be an ideal role-model but certainly garners her own amount of respect for her unique take on the world.  Rooney Mara shows how a victimized woman manages to NEVER be a victim.

After a traumatic event with her new guardian, Bjurman (portrayed very accurately by York van Wageningen), Lisbeth manages to manipulate the situation to give her the freedom she’s always craved. Eventually, Mikael and Lisbeth’s paths cross when Mikael hires her to help him with his investigation.

There are other actors that stand out in this film: Robin Wright portrays Mikael’s long-time lover and best friend, Erika Berger.  Stellan Skarsgard brings Martin Vanger (Harriet’s older brother) to the screen.  Other notable additons are Joely Richardson as Anita Vanger, Geraldine James as Cecilia, and Steven Berkoff as Frode.

Normally, I’m of a mind that film can’t even dare to compare to a good book.  However, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a movie that lives up to the Larsson’s legacy. I give this movie a five stars and I recommend anyone who enjoys a good crime movie to watch this — oh, and read the book too!