The Girl Who Played with Fire

August 21, 2010 - This Swedish movie, based on the second book of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, reunites journalist Mikael Blomkvist with punk computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Sort of. The actors who starred in the first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, reprise their roles. Daniel Alfredson takes over director duties from Niels Arden Oplev. Most of the dialogue is in Swedish with English subtitles.

The action takes place about one year after the end of the first film. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is returning to Stockholm after traveling around the world. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and his staff at Millennium magazine have hooked up with a freelance journalist and his grad student girlfriend, who have been researching sex trafficking. They claim to have discovered ties to very prominent people, and Millennium is ready to publish their findings.

However, in the days before the article is published, the journalist and his girlfriend are murdered. Also murdered is a lawyer named Bjurman. He's supposed to be looking out for Salander but, as you may recall from the first film, he had anything but her best interest at heart. The police immediately suspect Salander of all three crimes, but Blomkvist believes she is innocent and sets out to prove it.

Overall review: ** A big let down. The plot seemed muddled and the action disjointed. Blomkvist and Salander, who worked as such a solid team in the first film, only have one scene together here. While the main characters are kept apart, several other characters are introduced who end up serving no real purpose except to make it more difficult to remember who everyone is. With a running time of 2:10, the film is a little bit shorter than Dragon Tattoo, but it felt longer.

Before going to see this film, I read a headline for a review. The headline summed up The Girl Who Played with Fire as saying that it "labors under middle-child syndrome." I think that's about right. The first film got a lot of attention because it was first; the last one will have to be good because everyone will want the trilogy to end with a bang. The middle film doesn't have to be good; it just has to be.