Friday, January 13, 2012

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Flickan som lekte med elden; thriller, Sweden, 2009; D: Daniel Alfredson, S: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Per Oscarsson

Stockholm. Riding on the wave of success, editor of the 'Millennium' magazine, Mikael Blomkvist, is about to publish a sensational article about human trafficking that links some high ranking clients who use their services. However, just as they mention the name "Zala" over the phone, his two reporters, Dag and Mia, are killed in their apartment. Bjurman, a lawyer who raped Lisbeth, is also killed. In all three cases, the weapon was a gun with Lisbeth's fingerprints. Mikael wants to prove her innocence, but she avoids contact with him. She finds out "Zala" is Zalachenko, her father, and that a huge blond giant, Niedermann, who wanted to kill her, is her half-brother. They shoot her, but she survives and attacks her father. Mikael shows up just in time to call the authorities. 

The second movie adaptation of Stieg Larsson's popular 'Millennium' trilogy, "The Girl Who Played With Fire" is an equally intriguing and quality achievement, just different on so many levels that it almost seems like a different kind of movie. One of its main plus points is the fact that it actually explores and extends relationships and situations from the first film, which gives it a more holistic approach: in this edition, Lisbeth Salander developed into a three-dimensional, fascinating character who isn't just your average 'punk girl' but a very complex personality that grows on you, equipped with a brilliant performance by Noomi Rapace (even better than in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") whereas the writers made the mill run her way also by "feeding" off from the impression of the first story. For example, while the rape performed by the lawyer seemed rather superficial in the first film (since his character was "detached" in the second part of the plot), here it gains a fully circled out impression in the scene where Lisbeth breaks into his apartment and threatens him if he removes her tattoo: it shows that the act and its consequences are here to stay in their lives. The main negative point to this film is that she and protagonist Mikael are this time separated (which is a pity since they made a great team) and only unite in the end, which is kind of underwhelming. Still, as a thriller, it is suspenseful until the last minute, rich with unusual characters (Terminator-style bad guy Niedermann), feminist undertones and bitter observations about the flawed Swedish society.


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