Film review – The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)

The Girl Who Played with Fire: Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace)
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace)

The adaptation of the second novel in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” once again sees investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and troubled hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) exposing misogyny-based crime. This time the crime is a sex-trafficking ring with links to the former Soviet regime and Lisbeth’s past. There is also a “wrong person” narrative with Lisbeth on the run after being accused of multiple murders that Mikael is convinced she is not guilty of.

This second film has lost the telemovie feel of the first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and it’s a slicker and tenser film, with a very cinematic car chase and a great fight scene. However, it’s also lost some of the first film’s icy edginess and sophistication, taking the series more into pulp fiction territory with too much coincidence and improbability creeping into the narrative. Lisbeth is often reduced to being driven by revenge and one of the characters, who resembles a Terminator/James Bond-type villain, is distractingly out-of-place.

Nevertheless, this is an engaging thriller with a strong and empowered female lead, and an interesting critique of how poorly government agencies respond to sexual abuse and domestic violence cases.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 364, 2010

© Thomas Caldwell, 2010

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One comment

  1. You’re a far kinder critic than I, Thomas. I thought this started promisingly, then collapsed into schlock. From the point at which Lisbeth gets to daddy’s place, the whole thing descends into C-Grade horror – some of the stuff that happens is just laughable.

    With the odd exception, I reckon the thriller genre is going through a bad patch, and this one doesn’t help the cause one little bit.

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