David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, based on the globally successful novel by Stieg Larsson and following a 2009 Swedish film adaptation, isn't the sort of Christmas season movie you'll want to enjoy with the whole family; nor is it a film that will in any way leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. It's a rather cold, brutal, punishing journey, and yet one with enough grandiose kinetic energy, artistry and inherent—albeit sometimes overstated—truth to make it a potentially worthwhile moviegoing experience for the discerning viewer.
Set in Sweden—cold, snowy, white Sweden—in both the present day and occasionally in flashbacks, Tattoo is essentially a murder mystery. Fresh off a potentially career-ending libel case, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by the wealthy patriarch of the Vanger dynasty, Henrik (Christopher Plummer), to investigate a 40-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance and presumed death of his young niece Harriet. Blomkvist is invited to the family island where the murder took place and where many members of the extended Vanger clan still reside. There, holed up in a creepy cabin with boxes of archival files, he tries to piece together, C.S.I.-style, the evidence in a seemingly hopeless cold case. Like a game of "townspeople go to sleep" Mafia, Blomkvist must try to discern which family members are innocent and which might be the killer, even while he himself is targeted to be the next victim.
But for all his investigative prowess, Blomkvist is soon upstaged when he is given an infinitely more talented research assistant, the mysterious and heavily pierced Lisbeth Salandar—the girl with the dragon tattoo who has a particularly keen interest in helping ...1