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Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Countries: Sweden, Denmark, Germany
Language: Swedish w/ English subtitles
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Annika Hallin, Lena Endre, Per Oscarsson, Peter Andersson, Jacob Eriksson, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Johan Kylen, Tanja Lorentzon, Hans Christian Thulin, Ralph Carlsson, Georgi Staykov, Michalis Koutsogiannakis
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Run time: 130 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
I don’t mind that there is little action in The Girl Who Played With Fire. And even though I read the books, and remember them well, I didn’t mind that the film spent a lot of time explaining the things I already knew. What I DID mind, however, is that a two-hour-plus movie, which spends most of its time explaining things, doesn’t take any time to explain the plot of this movie. It gives us an extensive back story on the title star of the series, Lisbeth Salander. We learn a lot about her origin and her childhood and her life up to this point. But – we don’t really learn what the hell is going on NOW. In THIS movie.
Of course, I do know. Because I read the books. So throughout the film, I was pausing to fill in the gaps for my wife, as the movie was doing a piss-poor job of doing that itself. The movie starts out with a young man coming to visit crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) at his Millenium magazine, promising a story on humna trafficking, murder, and girls forced into prostitution that will blow the lid off a vast conspiracy and implicate many prominent Swedish citizens in the police, in government and elsewhere.
Soon, that young writer is murdered, and all signs point to Lisbeth Salander as the murderer. Well, her fingerprints on the murder weapon point to her. But nothing else shows any connection at all between her and the victims. The police, nonetheless, launch a massive nationwide manhunt for the heroine of the film, who now hides out in a lavish penthouse thanks to her ill-gotten gains at the end of the first movie. A boxer shows up…then goes away. There’s a huge guy beating people up. There’s a lesbian relationship that crops up…then goes away.
The biggest problem with the movie is that every major revelation, including the exposure of former Russian spy Alexander Zalachenko (a major character in the back story of Lisbeth Salander), is not connected in any way to the central story. OK, here’s Zalachenko, and this is who he is and who he used to be…but what does that have to do with the trafficking of girls for the purposes of prostitution? Why does his giant blonde henchman deal with bikers and carry drugs around? What does this have to do with that?
It was helpful to me to watch this with my wife. She hasn’t read the books, and so when I thought the movie might be getting confusing, she would confirm that yes, indeed, something made no sense. I could give her the pertinent details thanks to the books that I had read, but she had a really hard time with this second movie without that added benefit. I think the third movie in this trilogy will be better, since it’s a little more straightforward, plot-wise. And Noomi Rapace is sensational as always as Lisbeth Salander. But this second movie is pretty weak in comparison to the first.