The Girl Who Played With Fire Review
By Rich Cline
The second part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy details another spiralling mystery, but this time it's even more personal for the protagonists.
Which makes it more subtly involving for us as well, even though it's the middle chapter.
It's a year later, and journalist Mikael (Nyqvist) has lost touch with young hacker Lisbeth (Rapace). Suddenly she's in the news as the suspect in a double murder that's connected to his work as an editor at Millennium magazine. As the cops look for her, Mikael tries to get to the bottom of the story. But a ruthless, gigantic goon (Spreitz) is also after her, and he's working for the elusive Russian mobster Zala (Staykov) who seems to be behind everything that's happening.
Alfredson (brother of Tomas) directs with a slick, sure hand, quietly insinuating all kinds of things as the story widens and then contracts suddenly into an intense final act. In many ways it's like an extended episode of a police procedural series, as various characters approach a central mystery from different directions. And the plot is a little over-constructed in the way it draws everything together into a single confrontation. This requires a few threads to be lost along the way as well as a couple of brief contrivances.
But what makes the film gripping is the way it closes in so tightly around the two central characters, and since they're apart for most of the film Nyqvist and Rapace get the chance to develop them a little deeper. Intriguingly, even though they're physically separated, they are actually working together all the way through the story, and even without sharing scenes they have palpable chemistry.
Along the way there are a few detours (a random car chase, a gratuitous sex scene, a vicious fist fight), but the film builds a relentlessly suspenseful tone through a series of freaky scenarios and unpredictable encounters. And the taut pacing makes sure that our interest deepens as the events encompass big issues like human trafficking while also focussing intimately on Lisbeth and Mikael's own lives. And the abrupt ending leaves us wondering where Part 3 will go from here.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 18th September 2009
Box Office Worldwide: $67M
Distributed by: Music Box Films
Production compaines: Svenska Filminstitutet (SFI), ZDF Enterprises, Sveriges Television (SVT), Nordisk Film, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), Filmpool Stockholm Mälardalen, Film i Väst, Spiltan Underhållning
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 106 Rotten: 47
Cast & Crew
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Producer: Soren Staermose
Screenwriter: Jonas Frykberg
Starring: Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist, Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander, Lena Endre as Erika Berger, Peter Andersson as Nils Bjurman, Annika Hallin as Annika Giannini, Per Oscarsson as Holger Palmgren, Sofia Ledarp as Malin Erikson, Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann, Georgi Staykov as Alexander Zalachenko, Paolo Roberto as Himself, Yasmine Garbi as Miriam 'Mimmi' Wu, Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann, Tanja Lorentzon as Sonja Modig, Magnus Krepper as Hans Faste, Ralph Carlsson as Gunnar Björk, Hans-Christian Thulin as Dag Svensson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis as Dragan Armanskij