Director: Niels Arden Oplev Release Date: March 12 Review by Scott Murphy The Millennium trilogy has become a literary phenomenon since the death of their author Stieg Larsson with the work being translated into several languages, selling millions worldwide and now being put on the silver screen. This is the first part of the trilogy and kicks off with investigative journalist protagonist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist)- loosely based on Larsson, also a investigative journalist- losing a libel case to a high powered entrepreneur. With his reputation in tatters he decides to take a sabbatical from his magazine Millennium. This is where the plot kicks in as he’s hired by Henrik Vanger, a reclusive millionaire living on a remote island, to investigate the 40 year old disappearance of a niece, which Vanger believes to be murder committed by a member of his own family. There is, of course, much more to this as Vanger is the head of one of those sinister wealthy Scandinavian families, as seen in films such as Festen, which is full of dark secrets and Nazi connections. At the same time a hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who was employed to check out Blomkvist becomes intrigued by him and keep tabs on him and the developing case. It soon becomes apparent that despite Mikael being set up as the initial protagonist it is definitely Lisbeth who is the heart of the film. She is a female avenger, like a more Goth Clarice Starling or possibly The Bride without the martial arts but she is also her own character and we are shown, partly at first, where she gets her hard edge. As an orphan her adoptive parent abused her and we also see other instances of brutality. These amongst other scenes have caused some controversy, with the film being accused of misogyny. In particular a brutal scene where Lisbeth is raped by her new guardian has been seen as gratuitous and lecherous. While this scene is certainly unsettling and may go on a tad too long it never feels glamorised or sexualised. Although the films casual view, and typically Scandinavian view, of (consensual) sex may seem peculiar to the average British viewer with the leads sex scene being seemingly insignificant but they’re holding hand as a major milestone in their relationship. Lisbeth is also a very strong female character and feels fully fleshed out unlike so many female characters in cinema that play easily into stereotypes or are plot ciphers. The character is also magnificently brought to life by Rapace who is quite simply brilliant in the role. It is one of those roles that could have smacked of clichés of the outsider Goth chick and while it is not free of cliché it is Rapace performance that lifts her above this and could easily become a cult character in the coming years. She is not the only good thing about this movie though as Nqvist excels in his role as the honourable journalist and one of the few decent male characters in the movie. He and Rapace also have an easy chemistry when they finally meet up, about an hour into the movie. The film's original Swedish title - Män som hatar kvinnor - literally translates to “Men who hate women” which is very succinct as we see a whole gamut of violence against women be it physical, sexual or psychological. There are a few uncomfortable moments as the camera lingers on the photos of dismembered corpses amongst other things but this is nothing more than you see in your average episode of Wire in the Blood or Messiah and nowhere near the violence of torture porn films. This is another complaint that has been made against the film; that it may have worked better as a two or three part TV programme rather than a two and a half hour movie. There is an element of truth in this as at times it remind you more of certain television programmes than cinema, albeit high quality ones. However this does not distract from the viewers' enjoyment of it as a piece of cinema. It is also pretty cinematic with the cinematography of the beautiful Swedish landscape and the way it lets the viewer feel the isolation of the characters on this tucked away island in a corner of Sweden is very good. Fans of the books and certain harder edged crime shows like those mentioned above and things like Cracker, Prime Suspect or the films Swedish cousin Wallander should love this. Due to Lisbeth being an outsider it also somewhat reminded of David Fincher's Zodiac, which is another movie I would recommend. Overall this is a very good thriller that will not suit everyone as some will be turned off by the violence or will find the subject matter off-putting. But for those who like a good crime mystery, unravelling the mystery is part of the fun of the movie. One with a bit of a darker heart should be hooked. It certainly kept me hooked for its running time and I look forward to see the other two parts of the trilogy which are set to come out later on in the year depending on the success of this release. Rating: 8/10