Monday, December 27, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

Directed by Daniel Alfredson.
2009. Rated R, 129 minutes, Swedish.
Noomi Rapace
Michael Nyqvist
Lena Endre
Sofia Ledarp
Georgi Staykov
Peter Andersson
Michalis Koutsogiannakis
Hans Christian Thulin
Yasmine Garbi

After the unbelievable adventure that was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) understandably needed some time away. She took a year to do some traveling and, presumably, get a little R & R. Upon her return home, she visits some old friends and starts to take care of some unfinished business. This means going to see her probation officer and making sure he keeps up his end of the bargain they painfully came to agree upon in the first movie. However, when he turns up dead, along with a young journalist and his criminologist wife, Lisbeth becomes the top suspect in all three murders. They are all killed by the probation officer’sgun which has her fingerprints on them. Lisbeth trying to clear her name ensues.

Her biggest ally is the one friend she can’t bring herself to actually go see, Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist). The two worked closely together, even became lovers during the first movie. Here, he aids her from afar. Though she keeps her distance, he’s still supremely confident in her innocence.

For the genre of movie it finds itself in, it’s a very solid entry. It’s well written, moves at a brisk pace and gives us intriguing enough villains to root against. Lisbeth continues to be an amazing character, hellbent on living by her own rules. Where Fire suffers is in comparison to its predecessor. Dragon Tattoo is electrifying because it takes an unflinching look at the rawness of its characters and the situations they’re in. It leaves almost nothing to your insinuations and uses the camera’s trained eye to create empathy while resorting to normal movie manipulations as little as possible.

This time around, everything feels much more conventional. The plot machinations are more easily visible and feel culled from standardized Hollywood protocol. So too, do the revelations that pop up along the way. There’s little surprise here. In fact, at the risk of spoiling things, it’s almost like much of Star Wars lore has been adapted to this set of characters in present day Stockholm.

With all of that said, it is still a solid, if unspectacular, sequel. A good movie in its own right, it only loses points because fo the greatness of the original. I still recommend seeing it if, for no other reason than being thrust back into the world of Lisbeth Salander. It’s a dark, seedy place filled with the smoke from her constantly lit cigarette. Rapace gives another marvelous performance in the lead role. She alone is enough to keep us anxiously waiting the completion of this trilogy with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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