One of the virtues of Stieg Larsson's trilogy of books is its biggest cinematic weakness — exposition. Each volume is 600 pages-plus and packed with mostly fascinating backstory, on-line pursuits, and other non-visually stimulating activity.
If there's a way to make this riveting on screen, the Swedes adapting the first two books haven't figured it out. (I have hopes for David Fincher's upcoming version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) One thing director Daniel Alfredson exploits in this adaptation is women getting beaten up, mostly at the hands of a Terminator-like goon working for Zala, the mysterious head of a human trafficking network that reaches to the highest levels of Swedish intelligence.
If you have trouble following the story, then any of the film's long-winded conversations will fill you in. Noomi Rapace blossoms as Lisbeth Salander, the asocial savant of the title, and Michael Nyqvist remains dull as her pal, journalist Mikael Blomkvist.