The second of the Millennium Trilogy. By far the most enjoyable due to its driving story, exciting new characters, familiar old characters and distinct lack of rape compared to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
The Girl Who Played With Fire picks up roughly one year after the end of Dragon Tattoo. We’re reintroduced to Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) as she awakes in a villa somewhere in the Caribbean and meets with a financial planner to discuss her return to Sweden. From the minute she returns we’re acutely aware that she feels like she is being hunted. Lisbeth purchases a new apartment under a company name, WASP, and gives her friend and sometimes lover Miriam Wu her old apartment under the condition Lisbeth’s name is still on the mail box and all her mail would continue to be delivered there.
Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) is meanwhile approached by Dag Svennson, a young journo who has meticulously researched and developed a thesis about sex trafficking in Sweden and the abuse of underage girls by high-ranking public figures. Mikael decides that the next issue of Millennium will be dedicated to Dag’s story and throws himself into the research head first.
However things take an unexpected turn as Svennson and his fiance are found dead in their apartment with all evidence pointing towards Lisbeth as the culprit. This isn’t helped along by the fact that the following day Lisbeth’s ‘guardian’ from Dragon Tattoo, Bjurman is found dead. Again apparently at the hand of Lisbeth who goes into hiding. As Lisbeth is making herself sparse her ‘roommate’ Miriam is kidnapped by a giant blonde German on the premise he believes her to be Lisbeth and is rescued by her and Lisbeth’s kickboxing coach, real life boxer Paolo Roberto.
In the meantime, Mikael has turned his attention slightly from the sex trade story to proving Lisbeth innocent and finds information stating that Lisbeth is actually being pursued and framed by an underworld boss known only as Zala.
It’s at this point where the movie really starts rolling, becoming an intense flick that absorbs all your attention, there is no chance of getting away from this film once you’re drawn in. The detective work is enthralling and as we find out more and more about Lisbeth’s past and her connections with Zala we’re finally able to see how dangerous things could become.
Again, for risk of spoiling the film for those who are planning on watching it (Should be EVERYONE) I’m letting this plot summary end.
The interesting thing about The Girl Who Played With Fire is that it isn’t directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the director of Dragon Tattoo. He apparently had to resign from this post due to time constraints so the position was picked up by Daniel Alfredson. Alfredson’s name is not unfamiliar coming out of Sweden as he is the elder brother of Thomas Alfredson who directed the powerhouse vampire film Let The Right One In (2008). I was surprised that this film had a different director since they both look like they are the work of one director. I credit this mostly to the subject matter of the film and the fact that as far as I know, both films follow the books very closely. When a director has a good story to work from, especially when said work is from a series it’s hard to deviate from the central themes and emotion already famous in the written format.
While the main characters of The Girl Who Played With Fire are carried over from Dragon Tattoo I feel it’s the new characters in the story who really help drive the story along. From Paulo Roberto and Miriam’s side story to the introduction of the blond behemoth dead set on destroying everything connected to Lisbeth with a chilling cold demeanor all the way through to discovering who Zala is and why he is relentless in his hunt for Lisbeth.
Tune in shortly for the final review of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.