Here's all you need to know about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: the original Swedish title is - I'm not kidding - Men Who Hate Women and the movie is 2-1/2 miserable, boring hours of that theme. I haven't read the book, but it'll be interesting to see how the slated David Fincher-helmed, Daniel Craig-starring remake handles the seething brutal misogyny of the source if it's anything like this Swedish film.
For all its running time, the plot is rather sparse: A disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, is hired by an uber-wealthy industrialist to solve the disappearance of his niece off the family's island - accessible only by one bridge that was blocked by an accident that day - 40 years previously. While he digs into the case, we see that he's being monitored by a mysterious goth hacker, Lisbeth Salander, who was hired to vet him before his retention and remains interested in his doings. When she gives him crucial hints based on documents he's scanned, she makes it easy for him to track her down and he enlists her in his quest to uncovered the sordid secrets surrounding the missing girl's fate.
While this all sounds capery and Lisbeth has been turned into a minor pop culture icon with Ellen Page leading the speculation for remake duties - a sign of how lazy and unimaginative Hollywood is in casting (not that Page isn't a good actress; she just looks like the Swede in the original) - what isn't obvious from the hype and marketing is what a punching bag Lisbeth is. I don't usually spoil on movies, but you should know that within the first 45 minutes you will be treated to her being beaten up by subway hooligans; forced to perform oral sex on her court-appointed guardian (we don't know why she's beholden to him until near the end of the movie) in order to get her own money; and then her brutal beating and rape by the sadistic creep when she tries to get more cash. Since we don't know who she is as a person - we barely do by then end - we're forced to watch her punched in the face, handcuffed to a headboard, tied spread-eagle with electrical cords, sodomized and then staggering home. (Don't forget to make some popcorn for the boisterous fun!!!) While this leads to a supposedly awesome turnaround on the guy - she secretly videotaped her two-hour ordeal - it's just ugly. Not Monica Bellucci getting raped in Irreversible ugly, but nasty and unnecessary enough.
What makes these early scenes bewildering is that while she is shown bedded down with another woman at home, she promptly hops on Mikael's junk for a ride, hopping off and going back to her room the moment they get off. Deceased author/journalist Stieg Larsson clearly viewed Mikael as his alter-ego, so that he thinks that a troubled lesbian wants nothing more than to take dictation - ifyouknowwhatImean - from Mr. Reporter Man suggests that he didn't have to dig to deep to find issues with women to project upon the characters. And if you think the origins of Lisbeth's back-covering tattoo are discussed, even in passing, forget it; as I said up front, the tattoo isn't in the original title. It's savvy, if cynical, marketing. Who would pay money to watch Men Who Hate Women (and Beat, Rape, and Murder Them)?
Score: 2/10. Wait for the remake in case they delouse the plot.
Check out the difference between the trailers and note what's not mentioned in either.