Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara

But readers of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which has sold nearly 30 million books, know better. Larsson fearlessly exposed the true plagues menacing contemporary Sweden: rich Nazis, Christian male chauvinists, rapist legal officials, and two generations of billionaire serial killers—the first preying on Jewish women, the second on immigrant women.

Fortunately, two human beings dare stand up to this fascist tsunami engulfing Sweden. One is a middle-aged leftist journalist (in other words, Larsson’s sockpuppet). Although persecuted (and possessing no discernible personality), he’s still dynamite with the ladies.

The second is his young research assistant, Lisbeth Salander, who comes equipped with every add-on that turned on geeky former sci-fi fanzine editors such as Larsson in female fantasy figures back in the 1990s.

Think Trinity in The Matrix, but with even more attitude. Lisbeth has genius computer-hacking skills, a black wardrobe and a black motorcycle, hand-to-hand combat techniques that let her deal out cruel vengeance upon men twice her 100 pounds, piercings, a mohawk, and lesbianism (until she’s exposed to the journalist hero’s recessive charm).

But this isn’t the 1990s anymore, so the appeal of such dusty clichés has drifted up the age range.

Very few Americans go to subtitled foreign films anymore; thus, the Swedish adaptations of Larsson’s books were the three top foreign-language box-office films of 2010. I was at the local art-house cinema in 2010 when the third thriller debuted, and it looked like Twilight for the elderly. The lobby was jammed with shuffling octogenarians. The restroom lines were moving so slowly that I fear many Larsson fans may have missed their favorite sexual-torture and sadistic-revenge scenes.

Now, though, they can catch up because Hollywood has handed ace director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) somewhere between $90 and $125 million to remake The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

It still ends up looking much like the $13-million Swedish original: clammy and dank. Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, plays the Swedish reporter as if he researched his role by listening to a Prairie Home Companion debate over whether Swedes were even duller than Norwegians. (For some reason, he’s the only actor in the movie without a Swedish accent.) Starlet Rooney Mara, an offspring of the Rooney family who owns the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team and the Mara dynasty that founded the New York Giants, portrays the nerd-bait.

Despite Fincher’s expertise, his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo winds up being The Da Vinci Code of the 2010s, only with more anal rape.

 

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