I still haven't read the books these flicks are based on, but I've seen the first two movies now and they have become two of my all time favorites.
As in the first one—THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO—the second—THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE—has its moments of plot predictability (when "the girl" leaves a gun behind early in the flick and she isn't wearing gloves, I noticed and it seemed pretty obvious where that was heading, etc.) and overcooked depictions of the evil our hero and heroine end up battling...
...BUT...both films still have so much suspense and tension—and without all the computer-generated fantasy nonsense of most Hollywood movies these days—I felt like I was watching an old-fashioned film noir flick from the '40s with a 1970s' twist of reality to it (as the friend I saw THE GIRL WHO PLAYS WITH FIRE with said it reminded her of, the classic '70s "new Hollywood" realism).
The latter is partly a result of the leads being so "unAmerican" (i.e. un-Hollywood) since Michael Nyqvist, the male lead, has a bit of a gut and a pocked mark face and Noomi Rapace, the "girl" of the series titles, has a boyish figure (what they used to all "flat chested" as an insult, but in Rapace's case seems not only fitting for the character but a bold—for our sad society—statement about true beauty) and an unconventional kind of beauty that would mark her as the lead's friend in any Hollywood flick but I find mesmerizing (as my friend, a female, found Michael Nyqvist).
Even the second leads in this flick—Yasmine Garbi playing "Miriam Wu" and Paolo Roberto playing himself (when he was still boxing)—are unconventionally (for Hollywood) realistic-looking characters as opposed to the Hollywood cliche etc.
And though some of the characters and scenes might seem a bit over-the-top or even cliched, they are at least based on realities of contemporary life, unlike most Hollywood flicks that have this kind of suspense and action and battling between "good" and "evil" no matter how unconventional the good guys are.
In Hollywood action-suspense flicks the villains are still usually comic book caricatures if not actually based on comic book (or video game) characters. But THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE serve up villains worthy of our fear and anger because they are based on the real villains in our world (in this case the Swedish version of it) who may appear like responsible corporate citizens on the surface but are willing to sacrifice the good of others for their corrupt profits or physical gratification.
I suspect I'll eventually read the series in their English translations after I see all three movies (a fourth manuscript is being fought over by the author's—Stieg Larsson's—companion, who he spent most of his adult life with, and his father and brother, who he was estranged from at the time of his unexpected early death), because especially in this second flick—THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE—I felt the style and perspective of a good Raymond Chandler classic in its narrative contours and character depiction.
But in the meantime, the movies are high on my list of new favorites, and I can't wait to see the third one when it arrives on our shores (and even look forward to the American versions, just to see if they get any of it right).