"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", or "Men who hate Women" ("Männ som hatar Kvinnor") in the original Swedish, premiered in Scandinavian movie theatres in February 2009, and it has been out on DVD for a while, too. I saw it on the big screen, and I've just watched it on DVD, and I am still amazed at how good it is.
I don't particularly like Stieg Larsson's books, to be honest. I think they're overrated, catoonish, lecturing, and not very well written. There, I said it.
But the first one in particular had one thing going for it: It had a really great story to tell. And Danish director Niels Arden Oplev's 150-minute film version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" cuts away the fat and the gristle, leaving only as tight, well-structured and exciting a thriller as you can imagine.
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is the story of a missing girl. And very much more. It is a dark and sometimes disturbing picture; actual graphic violence is quite rare, but there are few scenes which make you tense up in your seat, a gruesome and painfully realistic rape scene among them.
Injustice, malice and outright cruelty are everywhere (but I did smile at times, and even laughed once, as I suspect you will, unless you are a prude), but not in any stereotypical Darth Vader-fashion. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" avoids all the pitfalls of many lesser thrillers. The acting is superb all the way through, the manuscript is perfectly structured, and characters that could've easily ended up as bland clichés come to beautiful, three-dimensional life on the screen. Or in some cases hideous three-dimensional life.
This is a highly effective thriller, one of the darkest and most exciting I've ever seen. The story in itself is no better than those laid out in dozens of other thrillers or whodunnits, but it is beautifully, virtually flawlessly realized. A must-see, really.