The Girl Who Played With Fire

Having wreaked terrifying vengeance on her rapist and all-around-bad-guy guardian Nils Bjurman, our heroine Lisbeth Salander seems ready to resume a life of hacker-anonymity. She’s got cash, she’s got a shiny array of Apple products and a taser the size of a cat’s head- what else can a girl ask for? However, when two journalists working on a sex trafficking exposé are brutally murdered, Lisbeth’s prints are found on the weapon – and suddenly the entire world is looking for her. The only one on her side is friend and serial do-gooder Mikael Blomkvist; can he and his team of investigative journos find out what’s really going on? The more they uncover, the more it seems like this plot goes to the very heart of the Swedish government. So why is Lisbeth getting the blame?


The girl who played…

Credit where it’s due, Noomi Rapace shines once again as the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander; her hard confidence and charisma mean that you’re constantly waiting for her to slope back onto the screen. Unfortunately, the interweaving storylines involved in The Girl Who Played With Fire means that we’re constantly jumping from character to character, which makes for slightly frustrating viewing. The never-ending stream of various “bad men” make it difficult to keep track of who is who, and with no character-building dialogue or humour whatsoever, it’s almost impossible to really care about anyone on-screen – good guy or bad.

Quick, there’s no time for logic!

The Girl Who Played With Fire suffers from classic adaptation-from-extremely-long-book issues. Quite simply, there isn’t enough time to do it properly. What works as an intricate – though often fairly slow moving – novel simply doesn’t translate into an action-thriller and the result is a paper-thin, convoluted plot that does neither the book nor director Daniel Alfredson justice.

The problem is, in a trilogy that explores the power of investigative journalism, we hardly see any actual investigating whatsoever. In transforming from a drama-thriller novel into an action-thriller movie, The Girl Who Played With Fire sacrifices its detailed nuances completely, and instead pounds ahead of itself with an air of absolute panic. The film is so desperate to tick off the plot in two hours that all the necessary information (and there is a lot of it) is thrown at us at top speed, making all the revelations seem rather shallow and perfunctory. Discoveries that seem plausible and well-deserved after 15 power-housing book chapters seem ridiculous after just 5 minutes of screen-time. Blomkvist, played by Michael Nyqvist, in particular is disappointing; he seems to spend the entire film either breathing angrily onto windows or receiving devastatingly informative emails. It’s all far too easy, and you can’t help but feel cheated out of a much richer story.


Considering part one of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, contained a satisfying mystery wrapped up by the final credits, perhaps the far more scene-setting part two was it was always going to feel like a disappointment. It will take seeing the final chapter, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest to decide whether this trilogy is a success, and my gut feeling is that the strength of Noomi Rapace’s performance will pull it through. However, though an exciting and original heroine will set this trilogy apart, I can’t help but feel that the Larsson’s true passion – the dangers, frustrations and joys of investigative journalism – has been lost in the action.

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