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The Girl Who Played with Fire

February 24, 2013

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Actors: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Johan Kylén

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Synopsis: When two of his young reporters are brutally slain, journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) looks further into their story of people trafficking between Russia and Sweden. When Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) gets framed for these murders, Blomqvist works to clear her name and solve the crime.

Review: Although probably less purely exciting than its predecessor, The Girl Who Played with Fire is in some respects the more sober, realistic story – with its all-too-probable set-up of rookie journalists getting in far too deep with an exposé of the people-trafficking underworld in Sweden. It doesn’t have the classic whodunnit set-up of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and, in some respects, that makes the narrative here a bit more dense and weighty as we have numerous investigative subplots that not only involve Blomqvist and Salander’s characters, but also the Millenium newspaper crew, a kick-boxing chum of Lisbeth, plus a newly-introduced police department – all with their own rather telegraphed character arcs. One is a weather-beaten, sunken-eyed chief detective, another is a talented, bright female cop, while another is a pig-headed male chauvinist who tries to undermine that female colleague at every opportunity.

To be honest, after the taut, panoramic set-up that introduces the people-trafficking exposé and the shocking murders at the heart of the investigation, the narrative dissipates into a predictable development where causality for all the incidents comes back to the tragic, familial strife at the heart of Lisbeth’s personal story. Also, the introduction of a comically invincible henchman, who wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond movie, seems a touch misplaced for the more sensible aspirations of this storyline. And, incidentally, even though this guy cannot feel pain through a quirk of medical fate, presumably that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the effects of a taser? Anyway, predictably enough (spoiler alert), the narrative ends on an unsatisfactory, ridiculous cliffhanger where none of the main characters or villains actually die in the climactic showdown, making the public investment in the final episode of the trilogy a guarantee. (February 2013)

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