My Thoughts on the Swedish Trilogy: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Last night I finally got around to seeing the final instalment in the film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s famous bestselling trilogy. I thought I would post my opinions on the three films and come to a conclusion as to which is the best and what makes them the brilliant successes they are.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the first instalment in the trilogy is in my opinion, the best. It manages to interweave the stories of a magazine journalist and a young computer hacker, the three films’ titular character, and shows the intriguing and captivating investigation of the disappearance of a teenage girl as the two characters, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). The film’s investigation of the disappearance is an interesting storyline which keeps the film flowing nicely, whilst the character development is stunning, particularly in the great performance by Rapace as Salander. She is brilliant and extremely talented, playing a young girl who was locked in a mental institution as a teenager and has grown up to suffer from various physical and mental abuse, including an extremely graphic rape, to become an intelligent and tough woman. As I’ve mentioned, the plot is greatly enjoyable, and once we reach the end it is extremely satisfactory. A great beginning. 8/10

The Girl Who Played with Fire:

The second film is nowhere near as exciting and thrilling as the first, but it still manages to keep a great deal of suspense going and the plot delivers as expected and once again, leaves the viewer happy and hungry for more. Mikael and Lisbeth are split up for the running time of this second feature, and the film expertly cuts between them as they rush to prove Lisbeth innocent of multiple murders. Lisbeth’s personality is expanded deeper as we learn more secrets about her childhood, and Noomi Rapace is excellent as always in providing a clear window into the soul of a frustrated young woman expressive in violence, emotion, sexuality and intelligence. Mikael is powerless to stop her determination and skilful quick thinking. The film’s climax is surprising and thrilling, and proves that Larsson is a true genius storyteller, but then again, this middle instalment is probably the least exciting and middle instalment is a very suitable term for it. 7/10

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest:

Ah! Larsson’s trilogy concluded at last. And in a fantastic manner! Lisbeth is accused of trying to kill her father, and the trial which follows is a chilling, perfectly timed and beautifully delivered work of art. The tension is beautiful and paced nicely by director Daniel Alfredson. Secrets come tumbling out and the truth is born to the world in a manner as good as any great courthouse film. But the trial is not the only subject of the film–in fact, it covers a comparitively short running time when in comparison with the rest of the film’s events. The much-awaited final climax is a thrilling chase sequence that works perfectly. Although, there are a few short bits which some may consider uneven when juxtaposed with all the rest of the film. But, the positives definitely outweight the negatives and prove that Larsson has the touch, as do all the other cast and crew members involved, who’ve consistently managed to create entertaining and enjoyable films and conclude it in a manner as great as we could have hoped for. 7/10

Final Thoughts:

This is a trilogy which is certainly worth watching. It is very enjoyable for fans of thrillers and fast-paced action films (The Bourne series is a good example), as well as those avid Swedish cinema lovers (i.e. me) who are looking for a decent night in with some decent foreign cinema instead of the usual recycled Hollywood stuff. Hopefully this has helped you to decide whether you want to see the trilogy for yourself, and if you already have, please leave a comment with your opinions below.

Thanks for reading.


About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on May 2, 2011, in Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. If you’ve been to my blog enough you’d know these movies aren’t my cup of tea, I just don’t have the stomach for ’em. But that said, I can’t deny that I’m intrigued by the stories. I might give the remake a watch if it’s not as violent, though I doubt that’ll be the case.

    • That’s fair enough, I suppose, though if you’re going to watch them, either watch the original or not at all. I don’t know how the remake (even if it is directed by David Fincher) is going to beat these Swedish gems. Thanks for your opinion!

      • Good point, I guess you’re right the original is almost always better than the remake. Who knows one day I might give it a try and just close my eyes when it gets super brutal 🙂

    • It is a really good movie. If shutting your eyes is something you have to do (and I warn you, be prepared to do it), then do it. The rest of the film aside from the brutal rape and vengeful aftermath is still a very decent movie.

  2. I liked the first one. Definitely a nice change of pace from Hollywood movie of the sort. The main characters were rich, conflicted and interesting and no one is turning into some superhero of sort. Haven’t seen the other two though.

    • Yeah. I can’t imagine Hollywood coming up with something as original and interesting as Stieg Larsson did. The great thing about the first movie in the trilogy is that if you watch it, you don’t HAVE to watch the other two because the ending doesn’t leave any unanswered questions or cliffhangers. However, if you watch the second film, once you reach the ending you HAVE to watch Hornet’s Nest. Thanks for commenting, Castor!

  3. I bet I’m not the only one who watched these films back-to-back-to-back for the full trilogy effect, lol. I loved Dragon Tattoo; the pace of the mystery, suspense and thrills; and I thought the storytelling / directing and acting complemented each other perfectly. I agree, Fire, wasn’t nearly as exciting or thrilling, but it certainly fulfilled it’s ‘job’ of being a bridge / continuation movie and opening the plot wide open. Thus, Hornets was a great culmination.

  4. Great post, I recently watched the first one and thought it was amazing. Now I’m excited about seeing the other two.

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