Lisbeth and her vendetta against Men Who Hate Women continue in the more digestible sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Second in a trilogy, ...Fire is one of those rare sequels that betters its predecessor. Then again, up was the only way to go after the sadistic thriller which was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for while that film revelled in its filth and vulgarity, ...Fire does away with such novelty and instead delves into the twisted psychosis and mystery of everyone’s favourite punk-lesbian-hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace).
Forced to end her yearlong self exile after she is framed for murder, the film follows Lisbeth and crusading journalist Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) as they investigate who is behind the frame and why.
With ...Tattoo’s murder mystery resembling an R rated, Gen Y version of a Murder She Wrote telemovie, director Daniel Alfredson does a much better job creating a mostly solid thriller that revolves around sex trafficking, and the involvement of many an important person from the upper echelons of Swedish society.
With each passing film it becomes apparent that Stieg Larsson’s novels (which these movies are based upon) are a damnation of his country’s institutions and leaders, sticking it to the man even further by having those on the outer fringe portrayed as heroes, with Lisbeth as much an anti-authority symbol as she is an intriguing character, whose borderline sociopathic actions makes her an equally perplexing and frustrating character to watch.
As expected, Rapace goes beyond the call of duty, taking on the gratuitous sex and violence which are now as much a part of the character as is the tattoo on her back.
Nyqvist provides solid support, yet it is Lisbeth that fuels the fire in these movies.
Sure, ...Fire falls for many of the same trapping that made its predecessor a bore. Why they insist on having their villain reveal his dastardly motives in the last act is still a mystery.
Yet as far as expectations are concerned, The Girl Who Played With Fire finally shows us just what the hub-bub is all about. Barely.