The late Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy was all about cruelty towards women -- and the movie adaptations don't hold back either. These are bleak, dark thrillers filled with razor-sharp social commentary, bloody action and conspiracies -- and brilliant performances by Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace.
In "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," take-no-prisoners journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has just lost his reputation, his savings and his freedom (hello, jail sentence!) after a nasty libel suit from an executive named Wennerström.
Then he's unexpectedly contacted by aged industrialist Henrik Vanger, to discover what happened to the guy's grandniece. He's offering evidence on Wennerström, so Mikael has no choice but to accept -- and as he investigates the sinister Vanger family, he joins forces with Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), an eccentric, abused computer hacker. And as Mikael unearths the clues to Harriet's disappearance, he also finds some skeletons long kept buried.
"The Girl Who Played With Fire" finds Mikael investigating sex trafficking in his own country, and young girls who are sold into it. Unknown to him, Lisbeth is keeping very close tabs on his work -- especially since she was abused as a child, and now plots revenge on the sex traffickers. But when she's accused of murder and ends up on the run, Mikael must discover what lies at the core of these crimes...
And finally, "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest": Lisbeth has been shot in the head, her malevolent father Zalachenko is in the same hospital claiming that she tried to kill him, and some nasty government forces want her locked away, as she was as a child. Her only hope lies in Mikael, who must unravel a government conspiracy formed around the young hacker...
"The Stieg Larsson Trilogy" takes the usual mystery/thriller plots and promptly turns them on their heads. They take place in a dark, dangerous, unfair world where the truth is quashed and women are treated horribly -- and no one more so than the eccentric, angry "girl with the dragon tattoo."
And the movies translate Larsson's novels beautifully. Niels Arden Oplev gives a raw, bone-chilling power to the first movie; Daniel Alfredson doesn't have quite the same kinetic touch, but both men do brilliant jobs with their films. And they weave in some horribly disturbing scenes (the ghastly, helpless rape of Lisbeth by her corrupt "guardian" -- followed by a gleefully horrific scene where she gets her revenge).
And Mikael and Salander make an intriguing odd couple -- Nyquist's journalist starts world-weary and demoralized that he seems to care about nothing, but regains his passion for the truth. And Rapace is absolutely electric as Lisbeth, who is one of the most devastatingly brilliant characters in modern cinema -- she's a wild, bleeding creature hiding her bruises behind a mask of piercings and jet-dyed hair, and whose torn-up heart begins to heal when she meets Mikael.
"The Steig Larsson Trilogy" is a powerful trio of movies that never stops hitting you in the gut when you least expect it. Absolutely brilliant.