The Girl who Played with Fire
(Flickan som lekte med elden)

The Girl who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)
Made in: Sweden
Language: Swedish
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Georgi Staykov, Hans Christian Thulin, Jennie Silfverhjelm, Peter Andersson, Annika Hallin, Anders Ahlbom, Yasmine Garbi, Ralph Carlsson
Year: 2009

Warning: This review contains spoilers to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Stop reading if you haven't seen that movie yet.

Synopsis: Picking up where The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left off, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returns to Sweden after living in seclusion abroad. She learns that her former guardian, Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), has made an appointment to remove a tattoo on his body which brands him as a sadist and rapist.

Bjurman had brutally raped Lisbeth in the last movie, and she secretly videotaped the encounter. When she ambushed him the next day in his own apartment, she forcefully tattooed the words "I am a sadist pig and rapist" across his chest and belly.

Breaking into Bjurman's apartment, Lisbeth finds his gun and threatens to kill him if he tries to remove the tattoo.

Meanwhile, at Millennium Magazine, editor Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has been reinstated as chief editor after serving his prison sentence in the last movie. He and his colleagues are working on an exposé of prostitution and sex trafficking in Sweden. With the help of a new journalist, Dag Svensson (Hans Christian Thulin), and his girlfriend Mia (Jennie Silfverhjelm), their project implicates a large number of high-profile citizens.

But just as the information is about to go to press, Dag and Mia are gunned down. Nils Bjurman is also found shot to death, apparently with his own gun. And Lisbeth Salander's prints are found on the weapon.

Finding herself accused of all three murders, she goes on the run. Blomkvist, however, believes she has been framed and becomes passionately determined to prove her innocence. His investigation puts him on the trail of corrupt security service officials, a former Russian spy, and to some dark secrets within Lisbeth's own family.

The Good: The Girl who Played with Fire is an intelligent, complicated, and thrilling film. Once again, the cast is great and the characters are all well fleshed out and unique. The mystery is intriguing, and every plot turn holds our interest until the end.

The action scenes are pretty intense, gritty, and totally unpredictable. The cliffhanger ending will also leave you eager to find out how everything will work itself out.

The Bad: For non Swedish speakers, The Girl who Played with Fire can be a challenge to watch. Not because of any flaws in the film, but because it's a pretty huge effort to keep up with the intricate plot and the subtitles.

Who would like this movie: This one's for you if you're a fan of murder mysteries and thrillers, regardless of how often you watch foreign films. It's a very well-paced, complicated story that does a good job holding your interest as the major events unfold.

Like its predecessor, The Girl who Played with Fire doesn't offer anything revolutionary within the genre of mysteries and thrillers. Rather, the film's greatest strength is the way in which it is told.

There's going to be a lot of thinking involved, so be sure you're in the mood for a more intelligent mystery if you decide to check it out.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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