The Girl Who Played with Fire
You see what you get when you play with fire? A grave – that’s what.

Theatrical Release Date: 07/09/2010
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Georgi Staykov, Mikael Spreitz, Peter Andersson, Sofia Ledarp


I should get a better reading lamp.

Earlier this year, the first of novelist Steig Larsson’s trilogy, “The Girl Who Played with the Dragon Tattoo” was released in the states and now comes the second part, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” (sense the theme?).

The plot revolves around someone framing the titular ‘Girl’ (Noomi Rapace) for a string of murders. In her attempts to find the real culprit(s) while also evading police capture, she calls upon journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) for his assistance (whom she had teamed up with in “Dragon Tattoo”). Although his actions are far more in the background this time, the connection the pair share with one another helps to drive the emotional center of the story.

The same cast has returned and maintain the level of their performances fairly well. Rapace is given a bit more of the spotlight here, as the crux of the plot involves childhood traumas that were alluded to in the first film but never fully explored until now. She handles the screen time well but the problems stem from a complete change in the creative team.

Whereas director Niels Arden Oplev was able to craft a powerful, intelligent look at a troubled young woman and a disgraced journalist caught up in a long unsolved series of murders with the first film, director Daniel Alfredson and new screenwriter Jonas Frykberg weren’t able to bring about the same tone and strength this time around.

That’s not to say it’s all their fault. One of the bigger issues here is that the manner in which the main villain is exposed brought back a number of “Empire Strikes Back” memories … and not all in a good way. Also, his muscle man was basically a James Bond villain (from one of the more terrible films) who played it all with the sensibility of the guy who says “Yarp” in “Hot Fuzz” but without any of the fun.

Maybe it’s just that Larsson’s follow up novel didn’t hold the same weight as his first and that led to such a watered down second film. Maybe Alfredson and Frykberg weren’t as adept at translating the novel’s convoluted plot structure. Maybe I was expecting too much because of how the first film turned out. Without having read any of his books, I can’t say (and I’m a film critic so lay off my illiteracy).

Being able to draw upon the start of the trilogy, I was left only a bit disappointed in this second effort but if I remove my initial esteem, I might have knocked it down a bit more. What it comes down to is whether you enjoyed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. If so, you probably want to see where the story goes and I can see why you should see this one. However, if you haven’t seen the first film or didn’t enjoy it, I’d say you could skip “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and so I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

2.5 out of 5