Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire (18)

Dir. Daniel Alfredson

Starring. Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Peter Anderson

Review

After the critical and commercial success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the second chapter in Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, has much to live up to, and it is director Daniel Alfredson who has the job of holding the reins.

We pick up roughly a year after the previous film; Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been living a quiet, but wealthy existence somewhere in the Caribbean but is now making arrangements to return to Sweden to put the frighteners on her rapist guardian, Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson).

Back in Sweden Mikael (Michael Nvqvist) has served his prison sentence and settled back into his role at the Millennium Magazine where he begins working with an eager, young journalist, Dag (Hans Christian Thulin), who is investigating the county’s sex-trafficking underworld. It isn’t long before Dag and his girlfriend meet the bullet, and Lisbeth finds herself the one implicated.

Steig Larsson’s Sweden is still a dangerous place to be a woman. As the human trafficking issue has garnered more media attention in recent years, it seems apt that it would be the weapon of choice second time round. But it terms of emotional shocks, it fails to follow them through.

The early scene that shows an overweight, salivating client riding on top of a poor young, drug addicted prostitute who is handcuffed to the bed is particularly unpleasant.  But, once these kinds of particulars have been established the film never really revisits the issue of trafficking, nor does it delve too deeply into the trade’s implications for the victims.  As with ‘Tattoo’, the premise of the plot simply serves as a Maguffin for Salander’s personal journey.  And this is what The Girl Who Played With Fire is all about: delving deeper into Lisbeth’s psyche and back story.

Rapace is still excellent and iconic in the role, of course, but the fire feels a little cooler than it should be.  The relentless stream ‘baddies’ who think it acceptable conduct to try and rape our heroine is a little tired and one dimensional; unless we choose to believe that Sweden’s population is 25% male, 50% female, and 25% rapist.

Despite its occasional made-for-TV feel The Girl Who Played With Fire is still engrossing at times; Rapace is on top form, if a little softer in her features, and the meticulous attention to journalistic research displays a high respect for the industry. Mikael is still perfectly cast as the truth seeking journalist desperate to clear Salander’s name, and the supporting cast all prop up their leads with aplomb.

The Girl Who Played With Fire will remain a treat for fans of the books and good solid cinema for the rest.  And despite not quite taking care of business quite like the previous film, there is enough mettle in the performances and the tough subject matter to be hopeful that all will be redeemed by the time The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest comes around.

Trailer:

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About craig shaw
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