The title refers to an incident from Lisbeth’s childhood when she doused her abusive father in petrol and set him ablaze – an event, it transpires, whose consequences she must now face.
Offering less of a cut-and-dried storyline than the first instalment, this film spends its running time carefully arranging the narrative dominoes in order to – hopefully – have them topple in the third and final film (due in November). The only real advantage of seeing ‘Dragon Tattoo’ first is that it gives depth and meaning to Lisbeth’s relationship with ruddy-faced reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), who works tirelessly to clear the name of his erstwhile paramour. Filmed in murky, grainy tones which chime nicely with the squalid demi-monde that Lisbeth is forced to frequent, the film is more sharply focused on fleshing out mood and character than it is supplying rudimentary twists at cosy junctures. Certainly, much of the story is Google-powered, but is that not to be expected from an ace computer hacker? And the debate regarding the film’s feminist credentials is rendered moot at the point where Lisbeth takes down a leering Hell’s Angel with an electric Taser to the trouser area.