Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Girl Who Played with Fire



Following hot on the heals of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the second film in the Millennium trilogy finds our heroine Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) back in Sweden following a year abroad. While she tries to keep a low profile and lives of the wealth accumulated in the first film, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is helping a young employee with an exposé of Swedish human trafficking and prostitution which threatens to expose high ranking officials. After three grisly murders the police have Lisbeth as the only suspect but separately she and Blomkvist attempt to prove her innocence.

I’ve never read any of Stieg Larsson’s novels but really enjoyed the first film in the series and to a lesser extent the pointlessAmerican remake. The shock and suspense of the first film feels far away from the sequel which is unremarkable by comparison. The plot is thicker and much more confusing and overall the tension from the first film is greatly diminished.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the Millennium films is the central character. Lisbeth Salander is a twenty-first century punk feminist with an attitude and a lot of intelligence. She also has a sadistic streak which comes to the fore when triggered. Here though, for the most part she is in the background. It’s not so much that she doesn’t have screen time but because her face is plastered all over the news she has to keep a low profile and avoid attention. As a result her usual loud clothing and style is hidden under a wig or hoodie for large swathes of the film. Occasionally she is given room to come forward and shock but these moments are rare. The second lead is the journalist Mikael Blomkvist. He was instrumental in the first film but like Salander feels less important here. He gets up to his journalistic digging about and has some nice patches of dialogue but feels a little forgotten. With the leads in the background, no one is on hand to step up and fill the void. The supporting cast are mostly very good but other than the Bond Villain-esque Niedermann (Micke Spreitz) no one stands out.

There is a nice and surprising reveal around half way through the movie but the plot rarely grabbed me like the fist film did. I also found it much more confusing and impregnable. I kept asking myself who people were and where they fitted in despite there being only 10-15 speaking roles. The mystery is never that tense or exciting and there was only one scene which was tense and unfortunately because I knew there was a third film, the idea that something bad might happen went out of the window. I was quite disappointed with the plot on the whole because the first film was so interesting and full of questions. This feels weak in comparison and takes a long time to go anywhere. The lack of interaction between the central characters was also a problem. There share no more than two minutes of total screen time which is a waste as the chemistry was good in the original.

The budget was estimated at around €4 million which is low compared to its American equivalents (The US remake of the first film cost $90 million). It rarely feels cheap though and is quite stylish and well made. The only time it is obvious that the budget was low is in the grainy night time pictures. The camera work is fine but the quality of the picture isn’t up to scratch. Occasionally it resembles a TV movie too, again I think due to the cameras that were used. Overall though the problems with the film don’t lie in technical areas or the acting, the problems are all with the plot.

5/10
GFR 6/10 

Titbits

  • A Hollywood remake is in pre production and as of January 2013 is at the scripting stage.
  • Action star Dolph Lundgren was originally approached for the role of Niedermann but turned the film down. It would have been his first role in his native country.
  • Paolo Roberto plays himself in the film and is mentioned in the source novel.      

6 comments:

  1. It's funny you wrote that this looks like a TV movie. Originally part 2 and 3 were made as mini series then got edited down to feature length. The extended versions do give more info then the theatrical ones

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    1. I might try and track down the third one in its extended version then. Tjanks for the heads up.

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