Girl Who Played with Fire, The (2010)
Release Date: July 9th, 2010 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Daniel Alfredson Actors: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Annika Hallin, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Jacob Ericksson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis
he Girl Who Played with Fire,” the second film in the Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” novels, maintains a level of action, violence, and intrigue similar to its predecessor. The brooding atmosphere and methodical pacing also make a return, as dialogue-heavy conversations comprise the majority of the meticulous sleuthing and fevered revelations. The intensely crafted characters continue to carry the film, but it is tortured computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, with her gritty resolve and unwavering courage, that makes it all so fascinating.
A year after solving the disappearance of Harriet Vanger with Millennium reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), young Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returns to Sweden. Still suffering from memories of a tragic childhood and the brutal rape by her assigned guardian Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), Lisbeth once again confronts her attacker to warn him of the consequences of crossing her. Meanwhile, Blomkvist’s magazine begins working on an expose of Swedish sex trafficking with the aid of Dag Svensson (Hans-Christian Thulin) and his girlfriend Mia (Jennie Silfverhjelm). When the couple is found murdered, and Salander becomes the primary suspect, Blomkvist must race to uncover the conspiracy and absolve his friend.
Salander is the driving force behind the movie, often overshadowing the actual mystery. As in the previous entry, both Blomkvist and Salander attempt to unravel the murders, but this time they’re not working directly with one another. This separation allows the film to jump back and forth between the two protagonists as well as showcase Salander’s unrelenting determination against a lifetime of adversity.
She’s shot at, assaulted, and framed, yet still refuses to surrender, even going so far as to tackle antagonists head on without help. And she only grows more interesting with each passing event. Lisbeth may resort to acts of questionable violence, but they are ultimately justifiable, empowering wins for the young woman – and for the audience, much in need of momentary catharsis to alleviate the dark and tragic material that embodies much of her identity. Further fragments of her tormented past are revealed through flashbacks, steadily providing greater insight into her character and allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of what drives this compelling heroine.
Several new characters are introduced and a few supporting ones make a return with larger roles, such as Millennium writer Erika Berger (Lena Endre) and deplorable villain Nils Bjurman. But the most unique addition is adversary Ronald Niedermann (Mikael Spreitz), a hulking brute of menacing stature and matching ruthlessness. With short blonde hair, a frightening scar that stretches across his face, and congenital analgesia (a condition in which physical pain cannot be felt), Niedermann is reminiscent of a James Bond villain – except genuinely serious. He’s a henchman of sorts, but his actions are those of a vicious killer, not the goofy exploits of the aforementioned superspy’s typical foes.
While its length and climax leave a sense of closure, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” is only the middle part to a larger story. Many questions are left unanswered and the fates of several principal characters remain unknown. Even though a significant portion of the mystery is unraveled, there are still plenty of puzzle pieces left to place in both the big picture and Lisbeth Salander’s murky past. But that’s okay – she’ll be back.
– Joel Massie