“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Lifetime TVM version)”
Holly (Avgeropoulos, best known for her role in post-apocalypse series The 100) is a high-school hacker in Philadelphia, convinced against her better judgment to attend a college party with her best friend. These doubts prove amply justified, as her friend ends up dead, after being dosed with drugs by slimy sex offender Spencer Oliphant (Van Dien), and Holly is blamed, with no-one believing in Oliphant’s existence – it’s doesn’t help that the two girls were on probation for an earlier pharmaceutical incident. On her way to jail, other prisoners in Holly’s van are busted out, and Holly also goes on the lam with the help of Dan (Rindress-Kay), intent on tracking down Oliphant and exposing him as the real culprit. Hot on her trail is Detective Cameron Langford (Cox), who wants Holly to come in before she makes things worse for herself, but has to deal with problems of her own, because the dead girl was the daughter of a major contributor to the mayor’s campaign.
Holly makes for an interesting character, even though Avgeropoulos is way too old to be playing a teenager, being the best part of a decade older than the alleged high-school student. Mind you, with Van Dien drooling all over her, that’s probably for the best. While the film does specifically indicate she has no parents, and is, in fact, also taking care of her sick grandmother, there isn’t the necessary intensity to convince me that Holly could survive on her own. It’d also have been cool to have had her make more use of her technological skills to track down Olyphant, perhaps destroying his life in the same way that he destroyed hers, toying with him before eventually handing him over to the police. That’s the way I’d have gone, had I been writing this: however, it would certainly not have been suitable for screening as a Lifetime TVM. Given this, it’s no spoiler to reveal that the film ends with hugs all round, lessons learned, and a cleaned-up version of Holly, no longer sporting dyed hair and piercings, serving birthday cake to her granny.
It’s a painfully obvious ending, and there enough other mis-steps on the way there to have me rolling my eyes on occasion. Holly’s breakout from custody is far too convenient, and I can’t say I would expect the police to take seriously a fugitive, calling after having broken into someone else’s house, who claims the house-owner is the real culprit and, look, I found drugs they were hiding. But if the storyline is, more or less, pants, the performances aren’t bad, with Cox giving a nice performance as a single mom having to juggle a harassing husband, and troublesome son – though, with this being Lifetime, his delinquency extends no further than being caught skateboarding on private property. Van Dien is also suitably sleazy [Man, it doesn’t seems so long ago he was playing high-school students himself; must watch Starship Troopers again some time.] and you certainly find yourself rooting for him to be taken down. For what this is, it’s okay: however, it’s another case where the makers could have aimed a good deal higher.
Dir: Jim Donovan
Star: Marie Avgeropoulos, Christina Cox, Casper Van Dien, Daniel Rindress-Kay