The Millennium Trilogy

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev, 2009)
The Girl Who Played With Fire (Daniel Alfredson, 2009)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Daniel Alfredson, 2009)

What are they about? Unless you've been living on the moon, you'll have heard of Steig Larsson's phenomenally successful trilogy of novels featuring crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist and the troubled, bisexual, highly intelligent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Together, the books continued the remarkable popularity of Scandanavian crime writing, selling an astonishing 27 million copies worldwide. Their success was of course due in no small part to the healthy dollops of sadism, violence and sex that occur regularly throughout the trilogy, not to mention the sadistic violent sex. Naturally, film-makers weren't going to miss an opportunity to put that onscreen. Especially in Sweden.

In the first story, Blomqvist and Salander team up to investigate a decades-old missing person case for a rich industrialist, which reveals some disturbing family secrets. Plenty of sadism, violence and sex ensues. Parts two and three shift the focus to Salander's backstory after she is accused of murder and the two films bring her and Blomqvist into confrontation with various unsavoury characters from her past in an attempt to clear her name.

Are they any good? Actress Noomi Rapace is the best thing about the trilogy, nailing Salander's unusual appearance and successfully conveying her intelligence and resourcefulness in a fine performance. Michael Nyqvist's portrayal of Blomqvist is quite different from the source material, but curiously, the movie incarnation is probably a more realistic and satisfying character than the shag-happy, fantasy journalist in the books.

I don't much like this review.
Prepare to have your computer hacked.
The first instalment is a mostly faithful, but rather uninspired adaptation of the best novel in the series. It's workmanlike and has a good sense of time and place, but crucially it fails to generate the sufficient tension as the investigation builds. Part two is better - it benefits from Salander's story becoming the main focus and efficiently pares out some superfluous sub-plots from the novel. There are still a few contrivances and implausibilities in the plotting, but a cliff-hanger ending leaves you wanting to see the final part. Unfortunately, the final film crumbles as it tries to tie everything up. Again, it's a valiant effort to knock the very baggy source novel into shape, but this time there's too many balls to keep in the air and it ends up a rather mundane finale to the trilogy, with little drama or tension generated from the various plot lines.

Anything else I should know? You'll not be surprised to hear Hollywood has jumped aboard the Millennium bandwagon with the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo well into production (catch the teaser trailer here). Rooney Mara (last seen in The Social Network) has the unenviable task of being compared to Rapace's Salander, whilst Daniel Craig takes the Blomqvist role. However, director David Fincher has good form with crime thrillers, not least Zodiac, which generated great tension from a similar story of investigative journalism, so we live in hope.

What does the Fonz think? The Girl in the Underwhelming Trilogy

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