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The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played With Fire
Nordisk/Music Box Films
Rated R
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre.
Review by: Larry Thomas

The latest rage in screen entertainment is a trilogy of films based on a trilogy of best-selling novels. Both are attracting worldwide attention and bringing in moviegoers in record numbers. No… I’m not talking about the Twilight epics. I’m referring to the films based on the novels by the late Swedish author Steig Larsson. The first in the series was released earlier this year. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Lisbeth Salander, the shadowy, troubled young computer hacker slash private investigator who clears the name of a wrongfully jailed writer while solving an old disappearance in the process. Noomi Rapace is Lisbeth and Michael Nyqvist plays the author and they are excellent in their roles.

Both characters and actors are back, but with a different director, for the second in the “Millennium” series, The Girl Who Played with Fire. In this outing, Michael’s Millennium magazine is investigating a sex trafficking ring. The questions and prodding cause three murders, with Lisbeth being framed for all of them. Needless to say, action, intrigue, and several surprises form the framework of the rest of the story.

The comparison between the Lisbeth Salander stories and those of Jason Bourne are inevitable. The main difference is that the Bourne films are more oriented, with lots of chases, fights, and shoot-outs, while the tales of Salander are more character driven and introspective. There’s still a fair quotient of sex and violence, but we also get a chance to dig deeper into Lisbeth’s past and family history. And in the end, it’s obvious that we’ve just been set up for the third installment, which is just fine.

As in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the acting, direction, music, and the Swedish locations add to the total enjoyment of these unusual films. And don’t let the fact that it is in Swedish with English subtitles sway you from seeing either film. In this fast-paced digital age with multi-tasking, secondary information sources, and screen crawls everywhere, reading subtitles should be more a more natural thing to do than at anytime in the past.

Do you need to have seen the first film in the series? Not necessarily, but it’s helpful as an introduction to the characters and style. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released a couple of weeks ago on DVD, so it’s worth your time to see it first.

And you really should see all the originals before the American remakes are produced. Director David Fincher, of SEVEN fame, is preparing the script for an Americanized Dragon Tattoo, and casting rumors abound, with everyone having an opinion about who should play the enigmatic Lisbeth.

The third film, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, will be released in this country later in the year.

Generally, sequels are miles behind their originals in both quality and interest. But not The Girl Who Played with Fire. It’s every bit as good as the first, maybe even just a little better.

The R-rated The Girl Who Played with Fire is now playing at the Esquire Theatre.


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