Posts Tagged ‘Stieg Larson’

18th August
2010
written by Mad Cow

The Girl Who Played with Fire

Rated: R for brutal violence, including a rape, some strong sexual content, nudity and language.

Mad Cow’s Rating: three cowbells

Lisbeth and Mikael are back! This second in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson is almost as exciting as the first movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. What we have here is a phenomenon. I am fast becoming an oddity in that I haven’t read the books. But even with that handicap, I am riveted by these movies as many Americans are by the book. But why?

The second movie is more of a stretch than the first. How is it that simplistic plot lines, outrageous coincidences, and a bunch of cartoonishly evil villains actually come together to produce sophisticated dramatic tension, evoke enormous audience curiosity, and the greatest suspension of disbelief since the Wizard of Oz? I don’t exactly know. Of course there’s Lisbeth.

The sequel stands alone, but will be more fun if you’ve seen the first one. Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth is still fascinating although the thrill of first encounter is gone. Infatuation doesn’t last, alas. As in life, we get character development.  She’s still strong, but shows tenderness to her former guardian and more human vulnerability to the baddies. But Lisbeth still holds her own, and often with several muscular male adversaries. She is the reason for the movie. You go, girl!

In the sequel Lisbeth finds herself accused of murder due to damning evidence against her. Coincidentally (!), she’s accused of killing a journalist recently hired by Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), editor of Millennium Magazine. He was working on a story about human trafficking. Mikael wants to help but as might be expected, Lisbeth fails to reach out. She’s just not a reaching out kind of gal. When things get more complicated, she manages a mini-message via her usual electronic communication.

Mikael’s and Lisbeth’s separate paths work well in the plot as we move back and forth between them. We also get glimpses of side plots. Lisbeth sleeps with a lovely lesbian, Miriam Wu (Yasmine Garbi) and we get to meet some of Mikael’s family. It’s richer and everything counts. The police bumble along, but so do Lisbeth and Mikael, only less so. The police ask “If she is innocent, why didn’t she come forward?” Knowing Lisbeth, the theatre audience laughed at Mikael’s reply, “She’s a very private person.”

Daniel Alfredson directed this one, replacing Niels Arden Oplev, and Jonas Frykberg replaced Nikolaj Heisterberg as screenwriter, probably because many think the first film was over the top in graphic violence. This one has a different kind of violence, more thug-like, what we’re used to. It’s a thriller and we buy it – somehow.

The settings are not quite as beautiful as in Dragon, but the photography is still top notch, the pacing good. Super bad guy Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov) and thug Ronald Niedermann (Micke Spreitz) as the Russian equivalent of a very evil Frankenstein keep our attention even as we know that they belong in the not-so-funny papers.

The plot thickens. Lisbeth and Mikael interpret clues complicated enough that we have to pay attention. They dig deeper until….It’s not really a spoiler to say that Lisbeth gets to live, since we all know that there’s a third movie around the corner. And there are loose ends, a bunch. I’ll be first on line for tickets to the next one.

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