DIR: Daniel Alfredson • WRI: Jonas Frykberg • PRO: Jenny Gibertsson, Jon Mankell • DOP: Peter Mokrosinski • ED: Matthias Morheden • DES: Jan Olof Agren, Maria Haard • CAST: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Yasmine Garbi.
The first film of the trilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo premiered at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in February to a warm reception proving to be a highly enjoyable and very accomplished murder mystery. Noomi Rapace embodied the character of Lisabeth Salander (the titular tattooed “girl”) magnificently and was certainly the high point of the film. Although not quite a classic, I’m sure the fans of the novel feel it was faithful. The second film follows just six months later, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and unfortunately it isn’t half as entertaining as the first film. In fact, it is alarming how inferior this film is to its predecessor.
The Girl Who Played with Fire sees Lisabeth accused of a double murder that just so happens to involve the Millenium publication that Mikael Blomqvist work with. She and Blomqvist have not kept in touch since the events of the last film but they both separately pursue the villain in this film in order to clear her name. The dynamic of two heroes searching for the same villain but not coming into contact until the final minutes is ambitious, but it unfortunately leaves the film feeling a little heartless. Michael Niqvist is painfully dull as Blomqvist, as he was also in the first film and makes it almost impossible not to find yourself wishing away most of the film, waiting for Lisabeth to get more screen time. It is clearly her film and Noomi Rapace tears up the screen every time she appears. The character of Lisabeth is the heart and soul of the story and as we peel back the layers and get to know more about her, the more interesting she becomes. I would go so far as to say that this character is the only thing that prevents this film from being a very mediocre thriller.
The Girl Who Played with Fire stretches your credibility to the extreme. As far-fetched as the first film was, this one will undoubtedly have you raising your eyebrows more than once. The final act is particularly ridiculous and although some might enjoy the bloody endgame (I did!), there are a lot of plot points that are difficult to buy into.
This is a standard murder mystery which is poorly played out, but is strengthened by another incredible performance from Rapace. The story is not half as classy as the first film, but it’s worth a look if you like a tantalising mystery.