Flicken Som Lekte Med Elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire)

Flicken Som Lekte Med Elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire) (DVD Cover)

Cast: Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), Erika Berger (Lena Endre), Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), Dragan Aramanskij (Michaelis Koutsogiannakis), Annika Giannini (Annika Hallin), Malin Eriksson (Sofia Ledarp), Crhister Malm (Jacob Ericksson), Enrico Giannini (Reuben Sallmander), Miriam Wu (Yasmine Garbi), Gunnar Bjorck (Ralph Carlsson), Alexander Zalachenko (Georgi Staykov), Dag Svensson (Hans-Christian Thulin), Mia Bergman (Jennie Silfverhjelm)

Director: Daniel Alfredson

Theatrical release: 09/18/2009 (Sweden), 07/09/2010 (US limited)
DVD Date: 10/26/2010

Rating: R
Running Time: 129 minutes

Note(s): In Swedish with English subtitles. Screenplay adapted from the novel Flicken Som Lekte Med Elden (English title: The Girl Who Played with Fire) by Stieg Larsson.

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Flicken Som Lekte Med Elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire)

Review: What with the trailer for the English language film adaptation of the first book in this bestselling trilogy by Stieg Larsson now available, and the film coming out later this year, I thought I'd better get my act together and finish watching the original Swedish language film adaptations. As a recap, I haven't read any of the books -- though I am familiar with the overall plot of each -- and I thought the first film, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor, "works supremely well as a suspense thriller."

In Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden, Noomi Rapace again stars as Lisbeth Salander, a fugitive wanted for the murder of two journalists, who were going to publish an exposé on the sex trade in Sweden, specifically as it relates to high-ranking public officials. That Lisbeth has no motive for the crime seems irrelevant to the police; her fingerprints are on the murder weapon. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), editor-in-chief of Millennium magazine, which was going to publish the exposé, is convinced Lisbeth couldn't have killed the journalists, but can offer no reasonable explanation for the evidence against her.

And that's about it, as far as the plot goes. The film follows Lisbeth as she stays one step ahead of the law while trying to learn who has framed her for the murders, and Blomkvist as he searches for Lisbeth.

Part of the problem with this film is how thin the plot is. I've got to believe the book has more depth and that the fault here lies in the screenplay. An important contributing factor, however, is that this film was clearly made as part of a trilogy, with no discernible beginning and an open-ended conclusion. Män Som Hatar Kvinnor could readily be watched and enjoyed as a stand-alone film; I'd venture to say that anyone who watches Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden without having seen the first film would be totally lost. There is a brief backstory (shown as clips from the first film) that explains how Lisbeth's fingerprints came to be on the murder weapon, but it's presented out of context. In another example, there's no explanation in this second film how Lisbeth -- someone without a family or any appreciable means of earning money -- came to be independently wealthy, able to afford a multi-million dollar waterfront apartment, but viewers of the first film will know the source of her wealth. Even her incredible talent for hacking computers, so important for storyline continuity, is glossed over. And so on. Also, Lisbeth and Blomqvist share only a few moments of screen time together so that dynamic element, which was so important in the first film, is lost here.

Since Flickan Som Lekte Med Elden is part of a trilogy with an overarching storyline, it's probably not unfair to compare how the films appear to the viewer. This second film seems to lack the crispness and edginess of the first, but that's possibly intentional on the part of the director; the plot of the screenplay is rather muddled so why not give the film a similar look?

Yes, I was disappointed in this film. I so enjoyed the first and maybe my expectations were set way too high -- or at the very least, set wrong -- for this one. Still, I can't help but think that something significant is missing from the film, though I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it might be.


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