I still can’t believe Hollywood bigwigs want to remake this Swedish series into an English-language version. The originals are just so good.
The Girl Who Played with Fire begins many months after the end of the previous story, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In Tattoo, Stockholm journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and goth hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) work together to solve a decades-old missing persons case involving the high-powered Swedish Vanger family. In Fire, Blomkvist returns to Stockholm to research a new story about the sex trafficking occurring between Eastern Europe and Sweden. Salander travels abroad for months, but finally goes back to Stockholm to start her life anew. Right before the sex trade article goes to press, two of its primary researchers are murdered. Police detectives link fingerprints on the murder weapon to Salander, and the hunt is on for the young woman.
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This second film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy books has suspenseful, action-filled sequences, features mysterious new characters, and gives additional insight into Salander’s dark past. Rapace plays her character as more a mature woman than in the first film, and brings greater complexity to the anti-heroine. We see a softer side of Salander, as she opens herself up to a rekindled romance, and tries to better her troubled life. Nyqvist’s Blomkvist is subdued as he navigates his way through the twists and turns of the murder investigation; his low-key approach balances out Salander’s frenetic pace throughout the story. Interestingly, the protagonists don’t interact at all until the end of the film; this narrative strategy makes for an even more suspenseful story, because we don’t know if or when the two will ever see each other again.
As with the first movie, this one enhances the original, literary storyline. The books are filled with minute details about various Swedish locations, numerous characters, and action-packed events. The film streamlines the story by leaving out extraneous information from the novel, and making the overwhelming amount of written details come alive via unique cinematic strategies (visual flashbacks, crosscutting). Fire is enjoyable even for those who haven’t read the books; for those who have, the film enhances an already great story. It’s a win-win.
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