Internet research (even hacking into other people's computers) and looking through stacks of old notebooks of negatives (even when looking for a killer) are just not that interesting to watch. And, a significant portion of this film's two-and-half-hour run time is dedicated to just those pursuits.
Those boring scenes are made to look even duller, when punctuated with squirm-inducing scenes of bondage and extreme, graphic and sexual violence. This film is either lulling you to sleep or making you wince, and there's not much in-between.
The actress who plays Lisbeth (the girl who has the dragon tattoo of the title) is perfectly cast. She's the right mix of tough street broad -- with multiple facial piercings, in addition to a ginormous tattoo -- and wounded soul. Her leading man, however, is much less than I had hoped for after reading the book.
Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist-turned-detective, was -- as conjured in my mind -- Harrison Ford (pre-Calista Flockhart) kind of hunky. A man's man and a ladies' man. The Blomkvist of the film is a pockmarked dweeb. (And, I am not knocking pockmarks. Ray Liotta and Tommy Lee Jones prove they can be sexy.)
The tale is almost impossibly complex. Much easier to keep up with on the page than on screen, it involves -- get ready -- journalism and a libel suit, a decades-old crime that may be a murder (or a disappearance), Nazis, torture, S&M, serial rapists/killers, cyber-sleuthing, the book of Leviticus, family business shenanigans, a girl with a mysterious and painful past and a love story. Good luck keeping up with all of it.
When I finished the book, which had been positively riveting in parts, I told friends that it went on about 100 pages too long. The Swedish movie adaptation had the opportunity to correct that and tighten up the story where tightening was needed. It failed. Skip it.