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With Jim Sabatini

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist

Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: July 9, 2010 Released by: Music Box Films

From the late Stieg Larsson's second novel in his indicting "Millennium" trilogy, a formidable foreign suspenser on the heels of a very riveting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (in Swedish with English subtitles) again stars Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist as a tattooed and pierced Lisbeth Salander and crusading Millenium magazine journalist Mikael Blomkvist.

Determined, dynamic goth bi-sexual computer hacker Lisbeth is an independent-minded person often in pursuit of "men who hate women" as new director Daniel Alfredson allows some loaded backstory into her passionate psychological torment. It doesn't mean that this rather dark noir stands alone firmly by itself.

A Nazi and his trained son were the main villains in the initial installment where Lisbeth's empowerment helped to make the mystery with conventional incendiary elements more compelling than anticipated. Even this centerpiece of a magnum opus has much more going for it than your average or above-average Hollywood actioner.

A year since being vindicated on a libel case helping to make a case that would profit Lisbeth doing some travelling and settling down in Stockholm, a dogged Mikael is investigating a sex-trafficking ring that may include underage whores from as far away as Thailand. It turns out Lisbeth is accused of three murders, now a fugitive from the law, two of which are fellow journalists perhaps too close to the operation with her fingerprints on the murder weapon used to their demise.

It seems that (maybe with some continuity lapses) Lisbeth has put away her nose rings as Rapace continues endow her with a certain vitality and remorse as she encounters her share of thuggish lasciviousness. Carnal imprinting serves somewhat as metaphor going back to extreme familial relations in the Salander household even if scribe Jonas Frykberg really doesn't allow Rapace to enrich the intriguing woman again.

Blomkvist is allowed to blossom a bit, even without sharing screentime with Rapace, as he might be Lisbeth's true friend, trying to bring light into what could be the higher echelon of Swedish society. It's not easy to get into what drives his fierce intellect (at least not what was done for Lisbeth), though Mikael's warmth and servitude to justice is more readily palpable while frowned upon by authorities on the trail of a prime suspect.

Alfredson's fidelity to the source material, excluding Lisbeth's physical, feline prowess, isn't concerned about making this Nordic territory an inviting tourist destination, offering up a less peripheral, if perceptive visceral pleasure. Maybe Lisbeth doesn't put her best stamp on the proceedings even with an improbable showdown with a wicked seven-footer (Micke Spreitz), while Peter Andersson reprises his dastardly role of Lisbeth's legal guardian and Lena Endre as Erika, a new intimate colleague for Mikael.

One might be left disappointed in the sense of what Lisbeth and Mikael have been to each other. Yet, what is tormenting and tattered at the end of this pretty adrenaline-fueled, if distancing Fire should finally shoehorn the extent of fanaticism and perversion and Lisbeth's cool personal artistry in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest.

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