Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist return in The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second movie in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise. Still in theaters and about to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray, The Girl Who Played with Fire is another brutal and intriguing tale of murder, revenge and corruption, and is nearly as good if not better than its predecessor.
In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) has been charged with three murders, including the execution of a young reporter who was working to uncover a major sex-trafficking ring with her former friend and lover Mikael (Michael Nyqvist). Mikael, confident that Lisbeth is innocent, attempts to reach out to the girl on the run while she digs closer to the truth, which may be more connected to her past than she could have ever fathomed.
The movie is another excellent entry in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, even though director Niels Arden Oplev has been replaced by Daniel Alfredson and the screenwriters by Jonas Frykberg. The movies practically look and feel very similar, which means the new crew did their jobs in maintaining consistency. There was nothing groundbreaking about the direction in the first film and the same can be said here, though once again that's not necessarily a bad thing. The story, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, is powerful enough; the director needs to simply tell the story, not command it.
The Girl Who Played with Fire succeeds in its focus, which is more centralized around Lisbeth's past and present. In the first movie, Lisbeth was on offense in a story that didn't directly impact her. In The Girl Who Played with Fire, she's forced to defend herself. Lisbeth is not someone you'd want to mess with, especially when she's cornered.
The movie's one glaring flaw is that Lisbeth and Mikael share very little screen time together. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo brought the two diametrically opposite characters together and developed their relationship throughout. In The Girl Who Played with Fire, their chemistry is assumed but otherwise left unexplored; they only meet up for the film's final minute or two.
The Girl Who Played with Fire is at times better and at other times not as good as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but it's pretty much on par with the original. Regardless, it is a worthy entry in the franchise and a top notch thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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