The Girl who Played with Fire

The Girl who Played with Fire suffers from a severe case of sequel-itis. It is slow, self-important, overly dramatic, and lacks the soul of the original. It is by no means a bad movie. But as a follow-up to the original, it does not feel natural. There is a certain hesitancy in the characters, as if they were afraid of deja vu. Worse, there are times when the story begins to take itself too seriously, believing in its own myth. That results in certain Kill Bill style sequences that only serve to dilute the narrative.

This movie starts off where the first one left. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is now a multi-millionaire, thanks to her heist of Wennerström's fortunes. She returns to Stockholm and begins living in a IKEA catalog apartment. She visits her once abusive guardian Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), to renew her threat of compliance with her requirements, in lieu for her not releasing incriminating evidence against Bjurman.

Meanwhile Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) continues his series of exposés, this time on sex trafficking from the old Russian republics, thanks to a new reporter. But when the reporter and his girlfriend are found dead, and the murder weapon bears Lisbeth's prints, she suddenly finds herself as prime suspect. When her guardian Bjurman also turns up dead, she is now wanted for a triple murder.

The movie begins to move more along the lines of Bourne series, as the pace of action heats up significantly. There are friends who are kidnapped, boxers who step in as saviors, a blonde tank who has congenital analgesia (he is therefore incapable of feeling pain). Through it all, the character of Lisbeth no longer comes across as a troubled, yet capable teen. Instead she begins to resemble a runaway secret agent. Mikael at times seems lost and petulant, even though his hunches always turn our right, and every lead he pursues continues to turn true.

The movie continues with it laid back narrative style, that worked so well in the first installment. But the editing itself is quicker, and more compact. Lighting is less moody. Music does not seem to play such an important part overall. The theme of incredibly sadistic families continues. But the note struck is less of pity of more of vengeance.

The movie is a great continuation of the story from the first movie, and we get to learn more about Lisbeth's background and her motivations. As a sequel it has enough for fans of the series, or fans of the books. But it isn't much of a standalone movie. Fingers crossed, all reviews point to the third being the redeemer. And that makes it time to kick the hornet's nest.

March 07, 2011

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