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The Girl Who Played With Fire (2010 movie)

A 2010 movie directed by Daniel Alfredson.

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The Story and Origins of Lisbeth Salander Begins...

  • Aug 14, 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was a near-excellent film mostly because of the direction by Niels Arden Oplev and the performance of Noomi Rapace. It was such a methodical, well-constructed thriller that was violent, emotionally repulsive and quite sinister which allowed its characters breathing space to generate the feeling of suspense and was a taut experience for its entire 150 minutes. Well, promising a follow up, the producers of the first film adaptation of the Swedish novels by Stieg Larsson, adapts the second book of the Millennium trilogy with “THE GIRL WHO PAYS WITH FIRE” (Swedish:Flickan som lekte med elden). I immediately jumped at the chance to see its sequel on a limited theatrical run in San Francisco. This second film in the trilogy may be every bit as compelling and twisted as its predecessor, this film has a different director at its helm in the person of Daniel Alfredson; it just doesn’t hit the same areas of suspense as Oplev’s first film.

Following the events of the first film, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is now on the run and has cut off all communication with her investigative reporter friend, Mikael (Michael Nyqvist). Lisbeth is looking for a fresh start upon her return to Sweden. However, when a young aspiring reporter, Dag (Hans Christian Tulin) is murdered, Lisbeth is named one of the prime suspects. Mikael believes Lisbeth is innocent and continues on with the investigation of an illegal sex-trader ring that involves a list of very powerful clients, in the hopes of clearing Lisbeth’s name. But when Lisbeth carries out her own investigation, she opens up the secrets of her dark past; it brings her on a collision course with a man called Zalachenko and a huge “hulking” blonde who can feel no pain. Lisbeth is in very personal danger…

                           Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

                          Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann and Yasmine Garbi as Miriam Wu in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

                         Yasmine Garbi as Miriam Wu and Paolo Roberto as Paolo Roberto in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

“The Girl Who Played With Fire” is a good follow up to the original film about the exploits of Lisbeth Salander. Some of the same characters show up to bring about the development of the plot. The direction by Alfredson doesn’t exactly mishandle the material, “Played with Fire” has a different theme and precedence as it is more about the development of the Lisbeth character; but one thing is a tad similar to the original, it is also about seeking something which has been lost for good or ill. Alfredson’s approach in the film’s direction is real different and the first half feels rushed that he seemed to have lost a lot of its intended sense of dramatic thrills. The result of the film is that he never takes risks, and once he does bring forth the pay off, it loses most of its impact in the narrative.

I am not sure, but Alfredson did feel like he didn’t reach a stable point in the first half. Much of it is filled with foreshadowing that felt manufactured and didn’t have the methodical approach of the original film. It focuses on the investigation of the murders as taken by Mikael and Lisbeth on two separate areas that will enable them to meet in the same resolution. I didn’t find the proceedings that engrossing and I felt that parts of it were convoluted and some areas too convenient. To his credit, Alfredson does capture the mood, but he couldn’t establish a solid footing in its storytelling. He does make the characters to be in the right position, but the viewer can have some difficulty connecting to it as the puzzle slowly comes together as the direction feels a little heavy-handed; it just wasn’t as good as “Dragon Tattoo“ when it comes to laying out the story.

                            Micke Spreitz as Ronald Niedermann in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

                           Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

                           Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist in "The Girl Who Played With Fire."

Indeed, the plot does have several missteps in the first half but fortunately, the second half became better. The film’s pay off was the intense encounter between Lisbeth and her sinister past and it does deliver in many ways, though it really didn’t get to the powerful exclamation point. Credit is due to the commanding presence of Noomi Rapace, who just makes such a convincing, powerful portrayal of Salander. Once again, Rapace captures that brooding Goth personality that makes the Salander character angst-ridden and yet so sympathetic. The Salander character is filled with many layers and the chaos within her makes her very different from other film characters. “Played With Fire” is actually Lisbeth’s tale, the why’s and the what’s are given clarity as to what makes her tick. The Mikael and Lisbeth characters are kept distanced in their screen time and when they do meet, it was some what disappointing and misses some emotional potential.

“The Girl Who Played With Fire” is a good film but is inferior to “Dragon Tattoo”. The film does manage to redeem itself in the second half but it wasn’t as emotionally drawn out and engrossing as the first film. I guess the pressure was on the director to make a quick follow up to the acclaimed first film and it made it feel rather rushed. I’ve read that the next sequel “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” was also rushed into production so I am not sure how that one would play out. But I suppose the trilogy’s theme of familial torment and disease may be enough to carry it through because of a good jolt of excitement. Plus, Noomi Rapace is a terrific actress and may be enough to make the next film worthwhile.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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3 ½ Stars: The Story and Origins of Lisbeth Salander Begins... 3 ½ Stars: The Story and Origins of Lisbeth Salander Begins...

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August 31, 2010
Woopak, I have read the trilogy but not seen this film. However, most of your comments on the film are the same that I had with the book. The first book was by far the best of the trilogy and though books 2 and 3 were good they were progressively inferior from the original. The third book does tie up most of the loose ends, especially how Salander grew up and became the dark personality she is. I may give this Swedish version of the film another try but I am looking forward to see the Hollywood version with the Bond actor in the lead.
September 03, 2010
Cool. That must mean that the movie is pretty faithful then, I did really like the first film and this was a little bit of a let down. I think the third movie is coming next month to SF, so I'll be in the hunt for it. Hey, you did review the books didn't you?
September 03, 2010
I have reviewed all three on Lunch. They should all be in the Cafe Livri community.
August 16, 2010
Thanks woopak! The books are among my favorite trilogy. I took the DVD out of this film and found that the subtitles would only display the first line on my tv. This got annoying about a half hour in to the film so I gave up. I know that there is an American version of this under way with the Bond actor. I am waiting for that one.
August 16, 2010
Thanks for the read, Michael. If you have a widescreen tv, make sure you change the dvd settings to 16:9--however, if you have the dvd of this film, it may be letterboxed which is why you are having some issues. Have you seen the first Swedish film? better than this one...
August 16, 2010
Actually, it was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I will try taking it out again and adjusting the settings if that works.
August 15, 2010
Great review WP, it sounds really good are the pics are great. To be honest I forgot all about this but I may check it out. Kinda got some things going on right now so I don't know.
August 16, 2010
see THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO on dvd first; that film was way better. I am pretty sure you'll develop an interest for this one upon viewing the original film.  
August 15, 2010
I concur whole-heartedly. This story wasn't as smooth or evenly laid out as the original. I also thought that some of the plot felt contrived...which goes back to the original author, Larsson. I could live with the contrived elements if the film had been as finely polished as the first.
August 16, 2010
agreed. If it wasn't for the female lead, this would've gotten a much lower score. It sure sucks when they change directors.
August 15, 2010
So this one isn't quite as strong as the first film? Too bad. I was hoping that it would be one of those film trilogies that improved as it progressed.
August 15, 2010
Me too. But switching directors usually mean a step down. It was still good, but so inferior to the film film. Catch you later....I may see one more movie tomorrow. I also dropped a review for THE EXPENDABLES--pretty fun LOL!
August 15, 2010
Was it really? I thought that looked awful.
August 15, 2010
It was a fun ride. It was a ride, not a movie--if that made sense.
August 15, 2010
Not really, but I'll take your word on it. LOL!
August 15, 2010
stay tuned. I am working on something for your comic community and one for the Star Trek one. I need to contribute more in other COL's.
August 15, 2010
August 15, 2010
"communities on Lunch"'s the official short cut. LOL!
August 15, 2010
Oh, how trendy.
More The Girl Who Played with Fire ... reviews
Quick Tip by . June 06, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
FIrst sequel to The Girl WIth The Dragon Tattoo has Mikael investigating human traffiking and sex slavery while trying to help Lisbeth clear her name for the murder of individuals involved in his investigation. A great story and an opening up of Lisbeths past make up for it's dull spots and gimmicks.
review by . June 20, 2011
Unstopable excitement in a well-told tale
I recommend this second film in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and the other two as well. Of course the book is far better than the film. This is almost always true because the book has more details, greater characterization, psychological explorations, more depth, and additional sub-plots. Yet this film is filled with no-stop excitement, the acting is superb, and the scenery appropriate. While the film is in Swedish, I doubt that most people will find it hard to follow the subtitles. Additionally, …
Quick Tip by . February 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I seem to be in the minority when I say that I preferred this to the first film. I have a number of reasons, but mainly while "The Girl Who Played with Fire" isn't as dark or as suspenseful as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", it is a much more realistic and character-driven work over all. My one real complaint with this series is that it is far too convoluted and ultimately while it attempts to lead its viewers on a complex detective search, what it ends up doing is falling into typical crime …
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The toughest chick in Sweden returns to action inThe Girl Who Played with Fire, the second film adaptation of the late author Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy novels. That would be Lisbeth Salander, once again played with quiet, feral intensity by Noomi Rapace. As Larsson's readers and anyone who saw the first film (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, also released in 2010) knows, Lisbeth is small in stature but big trouble for any man who crosses her--after all, this is the woman who set her father on fire after he abused her mother and later, after being released from a mental institution, took extreme revenge on her legal guardian after he brutally assaulted her (those scenes are briefly revisited for the enlightenment of those who missed the earlier film). Also back is investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), Lisbeth's erstwhile lover and partner in solving theDragon Tattoomystery. When two of his young colleagues are killed while at work on a story about sex trafficking, followed shortly by the murder of the aforementioned guardian, Salander is the prime suspect. But Mikael is sure of her innocence; in fact, he's convinced she's the next victim, leading to a tangled tale in which Lisbeth learns more about her family and its very dark secrets than she ever wanted to know. The story is compelling, if a bit slow to take shape, and director Daniel Alfredson, taking over for Niels Arden Oplev, skillfully sustains the mystery and tension ...
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Director: Daniel Alfredson
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: October 26, 2010
Runtime: 129 minutes
Studio: Music Box Films Home Entertainment
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