The Girl Who Played With Fire review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Stieg Larsson may be heading for the critical hat-trick with this compelling follow-up...
“She’s a very private person,” says investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist. Anyone who watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – and many who didn’t – will know this is a reference to slender heroine Lisbeth Salander, the iconic computer hacker created by Stieg Larsson and brought to life by Noomi Rapace. In fact Blomqvist (Michael Nyqvist) could easily have been referring to numerous others as this gritty, clinical thriller manages to strike the right balance between its action output and the troubled beginnings of its lead protagonist.
With no prior knowledge of the first instalment needed, The Girl Who Played With Fire sees Blomqvist and his Millennium magazine colleagues investigate the brutal murder of a young journalist and his girlfriend. The former is about to name and shame a list of distinguished names involved in a prostitution ring having signed up to a temporary contract with the journal. However, when Salander’s fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, she is brought back from a self-imposed exile. As her troubled past resurfaces in the present, her life of solitude becomes one of necessity.
Despite the occasional unlikely encounter – this is a thriller after all – what continues to separate the Swedish film from its North American counterparts is its ability to focus on difficult issues such as sexual abuse without drawing us away from the fact that this is popcorn entertainment. Through occasional flashbacks mixed with Salander’s aloof nature and lonely existence it is not difficult for us to draw certain conclusions, and with her family history a prominent strand we can finally see what drives the tattooed sociopath to ignore the few who actually care about her.
"Somewhere between Bourne and Bergman, this is a thriller that will entertain the widest possible audience"
In many ways, though, it is Blomqvist who is the hero of this story as his vicarious relationship with Salander brings out a sense of compassion which is otherwise visibly lacking. Without a trace of self-consciousness, the renowned reporter seems more at ease speaking to the reprobates he regularly confronts than his own family who ask him the awkward questions, and although he shares very little screen time with the unconventionally attractive hacker, it is clear that they share an emotional connection, even if it is one they never fully get to explore.
Some mention should also be given to a strong cast of supporting actors including a blond hulk of a man who could give any Bond villain, including Jaws, a run for their money. Peter Andersson excels as a maladjusted lawyer, whilst veteran actor Per Oscarsson steals each of his short scenes as Salander’s legal guardian Palmgren. The Millennium journalists are also on fine form, though it does grate at times how quickly and easily they find vital links with key suspects without quite explaining how they did.
Small gripes to one side, The Girl Who Played With Fire is on a par with its erstwhile predecessor. Somewhere between Bourne and Bergman, this is a thriller that will entertain the widest possible audience, and should make you question how Daniel Craig and Carey Mulligan can possibly add anything new as they step in for the Hollywood remake of this groundbreaking trilogy.
The Girl Who Played With Fire is released in the UK August 27, 2010
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.