Throughout this beautifully photographed, skilfully constructed film there’s a sense we’re skimming lightly over Larsson’s characters and themes. Blomkvist is the putative hero, but his investigative journey is a little too familiar, his character too clean-cut to be compelling. It’s Salander who holds the attention: superbly played by Rapace, she’s a grim, spectral presence in the opening scenes, before she’s pushed too far and explodes in a moment of shocking, vengeful violence.
Such scenes place ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ above the extended TV mystery it easily could have become, but explicit violence only takes you so far. At heart this is a traditional thriller, down to a series of convenient and underwhelming last-act revelations. For fans of Larsson’s books this could be the highlight of the cinemagoing year – for the rest of us it’s a solid, enjoyable but emotionally unengaging detective story.