Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), is the disgraced expose journalist for the leftist MILLENNIUM magazine and found guilty of libeling a corporate executive. Before having to serve his sentence, he is hired by Vanger to discover the truth and sets up his research center in a cottage on the estate where he sometimes spent summers as a young boy, cared for by Harriet, then a teenage girl. When techno geek, hacker yet emotionally-troubled, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), employed by a security company and assigned to find the dirt on Mikael, she comes up instead with the discovery that he was set up. While hacking straight into his computer and the Vanger investigation, her interest is piqued and she comes up with a possible answer to a clue no one has been able to crack. Blomkvist is furious at first, then enlists her help. Together, they link Harriet's disappearance with a number of murders connected to the secretive clan with everyone telling them to leave the island and the mystery to its own end.
But the pair become obsessed, first with the case and the picture the clues seem to be putting together, then to each other, first physically followed by elusive, deep down secrets. As Lisbeth puts it, "Everyone has secrets". She starts off as a victim, tough and terse yet vulnerable as a young woman whose delinquent past forces her to concede to the demands of an unscrupulous guardian. However, she fights back, avenging herself and ultimately becoming an unlikely hero, a saviour and avenger for the other victims who had no champion to stand up to them. The acting is exceptional, action tight and smart with archival photos and footage creating mnemonic clues for the story's convergence.
Taking on the Millennium Trilogy, (Stieg Larsson novels that have become a global sensation), is a challenge in itself with the film title presenting a conundrum as to why this character is in the title. It is a murder mystery after all. There is violence (brutally enforced) throughout, but not the gratuitous sensationalism some contemporary directors decide to celebrate. instead, the story unfolds darkly, stealthily guiding viewers along a bone chilling, labyrinthian thoroughfare of techno trails that takes on the beast, past and present purporting an unpredictable future.
As with many foreign films, it seems a bit too long to get to the point - 152 minutes. That's two and a half hours of intense viewing making the audience jump in their seats on several occasions. Yet, the film is extremely well done and well received winning the Guldbagge Awards (Sweden's Oscars) for Best Film, Best Actress (Noomi Rapace) and Audience Award for Best film and Winner of the Palm Springs International Film festival Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature. Unrated. In Swedish with English subtitles.