Sunday, March 14, 2021

the girl who was in three movies

Years ago I saw the English-language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I found a pretty unsatisfactory thriller, mostly because the title character is fairly superfluous to the plot, which is about a (male) journalist who's hired to investigate a 40-year-old missing-girl mystery. Girl with the d.t. is supposed to be a brilliant computer hacker, so journalist hires her as his assistant. But she's also under legal guardianship for reasons dimly alluded to concerning her past, and her guardians physically and sexually abuse her until she takes revenge. More bothersome to me was the scene where the villain, to threaten the hero, murders the stray cat the hero has taken in and leaves it on his doorstep.

I've been told, more than once, that the original Swedish movie was much better. So when I saw that it, and two sequels, were on Amazon prime, I decided to watch them, and that's been occupying my late-night hours when I'm too tired to edit papers but not enough to fall asleep, up to and including noting DST kicking in on the clock in my computer task bar.

These are not dubbed, but subtitled; it was interesting to discover that I know a little Swedish (just a little, enough to catch a few words here and there). And yes, the first movie is better than the remake: the acting and directing is crisper, the girl is more incisive a character, the plot holes are not so holey, and there's no dead cat.

The sequels, not so satisfactory. Especially because, even though the first movie's mystery has been entirely solved and dropped, and the story is now all about revealing girl with the d.t.'s past, she's superfluous to it again. Worse, as a result of a couple rolls in the hay she had with him in the first movie, the journalist is now pining after her, though she's no longer interested. Though his infatuation takes the form of turning all crusading-journalist on behalf of her legal problems, so she has to be grateful, what?

In #2, The Girl Who Played With Fire, her previously cloudy past is revealed, but his and her attempts to do something about it do not intersect. In the whole course of the movie, she sends him two e-mails and then they meet under dire circumstances about two minutes before the end. The title of most improbable scene in this movie must be shared between the one where the villains literally bury her alive and she digs her way out of the grave after they've gone away, and the scene where she sees on her security-cam feed that the journalist has found her keys and broken into her apartment (which she's not currently using because she's on the run, but he doesn't know that) and it doesn't bother her.

In #3, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, all her troubles turn out to be to silence her as a witness for a nefarious long-term plot hatched by a government agency so secret even the Prime Minister doesn't know about it. But she has nothing to do with unraveling this; all her hacker skills have gone away, and she spends nearly the entire movie recovering in hospital from the climax of the previous movie and then in court being tried for it. All the investigation is done by the journalist and a host of others. Finally, at the very end, she's released from custody and ties up the last remaining dangling plot thread with some dazzling action worthy of the first movie, although its only hack is when she calls directory assistance. Then the journalist shows up at her door to tell her what she's just done, and then finally goes away and leaves her alone.

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