Girl Who Played with Fire, The (2010; Review)

(7/09/10; Suspense, Swedish language)
Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Yasmine Garbi
SCR: Nikolaj Arcel, Rasmus Heisterberg; based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
DIR: Daniel Alfredson
MPAA: R for brutal violence including a rape, some strong sexual content, nudity and language.
2 hours 9 mins
BOX: $67,049,619

Part II of “The Millennium Trilogy” changes gears and becomes more of a streamlined revenge thriller than a mystery. Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) is framed for three murders and finds herself on the run to clear her name. The evidence not only leads her (and us) to a shocking revelation but takes all those dangling story elements from Dragon Tattoo and makes them count.

Lest anyone think the story would get as focused as the action, guess again. This is the chapter in which we realize how Lisbath’s personal demons connect directly to a bigger conspiracy, so make sure you have a pad of paper to keep track of everyone. While Dragon Tattoo was a breath of fresh air, Played with Fire suffers in comparison for one simple reason: it’s not as well directed as the first.

Director Oplev had a more cinematic style while Alfredson’s visual approach seems more befitting Swedish episodes of Law and Order. But the movie’s trump card is Rapace, so perfectly cast and fearless that she confirms something I only suspected watching the first film: hers is one of the best performances of the decade. And although the story unwisely keeps her separated from publisher Blomkvist (Nyqvist), every moment she’s onscreen, the movie’s alive.

Followed by The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. (Music Box)

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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