I was honestly surprised how uninvolving this movie was. I mean, Fincher made something as potentially airless as The Social Network dynamic, and yet this thing just went on and on. The editing within individual scenes was fine, but in a larger sense, the story had very little flow to it.
I felt like the movie really lost something when it sidelined Plummer, because he was at the heart of the case and his need to have it solved was really the only thing that got me invested in it. There's also a moment towards the beginning where he tells Mikael that he will get to know his family all too well, which made me anticipate a bunch of wonderfully loathsome people I'd love to hate. But, really, his family barely registered. The only guy who did was Skarsgard, and in the end it almost seemed like he turned out to be a villain because, well, who else could be?
Although I found the setup of the mystery interesting, the investigation, the procedural aspect just sort of happens, rather than engages. In the end, I couldn't have cared less what made Martin tick. Which is perhaps a good thing because the movie basically just glosses over the family's violent legacy (instead, the film just seems to rely on using the word "Nazi" a lot), and, by extension, whatever misogyny and xenophobia exists in modern Sweden. There are times the movie feels more like a beautifully shot, occasionally suspenseful cologne commercial rather than a movie about much of anything.
Mara is the best thing about the movie. And although the character is indeed part wish fulfillment, I think Fincher manages to undercut that a bit with how he shoots her. He appears to be very aware of just how much of an iconic figure (of the moment, at least) Lisbeth has become, and he has a lot of fun with the way she is presented, which recalls cultural entities worshiped and fetishized: from rock stars, to aliens, to religious icons. That she's rather empty on the page is kind of irrelevant, because people imbue her with their own meanings.