By Chris Nashawaty
Updated June 30, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Stieg Larsson’s best-selling thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. Chances are you — or someone you share a cubicle with or wake up next to — have been talking about little else lately. After all, publishing sensations like this don’t come along often. And when they do, some Hollywood studio’s usually right around the corner with a god-awful adaptation, screwing up everything that enchanted fans in the first place. Well, before David Fincher gets too deep into his Tinseltown remake, he might want to check out Niels Arden Oplev’s Swedish import to see how it’s done right. Released in a limited number of theaters back in March, this action/art-house hybrid miraculously manages to be faithful to Larsson’s novel without seeming slavish. It doesn’t hurt that he’s cast the movie perfectly, too, thanks to the Viggo Mortensen-esque Michael Nyqvist as obsessive reporter Mikael Blomkvist and the pierced powerhouse Noomi Rapace as avenging cyberpunk angel Lisbeth Salander. If you’re new to the story, you might be surprised at how familiar it feels: An unlikely pair team up to solve a long-buried mystery, get beaten to a bloody pulp, and race to nail the killer before the final twist. But what sets Larsson’s story apart from any number of coach-class Grisham procedurals is its willingness (or is it eagerness?) to wallow in sadistic violence (including some downright ugly rape and torture scenes). That and its exotic setting, of course. The gloomy country of Ingmar Bergman has always been cinematic shorthand for loneliness and unspoken secrets. And in Girl, the land of the midnight sun has never looked darker. On the EXTRAS, there’s an English dubbed track for the subtitle-phobic and an interview with Rapace. A-

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 2

  • Movie
  • 152 minutes
  • Niels Arden Oplev