The Girl Who Played With Fire

Last month while traveling to assorted places in Italy, I had lots of time while riding the trains to read the Stieg Larsson novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. After I got home, I watched the DVD via Netflix. This was a case of reading the novel before seeing the film. I felt that I still enjoyed the film even with the element of mystery and suspense removed. The film was very good and my review of it is here.

For the 2nd in the Millenium trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, I reversed the process. This time I watched the film before reading the book. While I am about three quarters of the way through the book, I figured it was time to do the review of the film version of TGWPWF.

As a free standing film, TGWPWF has a lot going for it. The foreign locale for one. The most interesting heroine of the year. A crackling good mystery/police procedural film about the rotten underside of the Swedish society. But…

If you’ve seen the first film, then this one doesn’t come to you as fresh and different. This isn’t a real negative because you can enjoy the film with or without having seen the first one.

But (there’s that word again) this one has some elemental flaws which cannot be overlooked.

Mykael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander are once again played by Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace. But in this one, they have such limited screen time together. Almost none until nearly the end. You can’t help but be disappointed about that.

TGWTDT (Tattoo) had a real unsolved mystery to it. The search for the truth of what happened to Harriet Vanger nearly 40 years in the past, was the engine that drove the story, But in this TGWPWF (Fire) there are three people murdered in the present time. Someone is wanted as the lead suspect. But we already know that this person didn’t commit those crimes. So the element of suspicion deteriorates downward to will the real killers be discovered before the chief suspect is apprehended. Which is a whole different story altogether.

I believe this film is way more explicit, and be it a bit of lovemaking between Lisbeth and Miriam, or Paolo getting the stuffings beaten out of him, or  another sexual encounter between a ‘john’ and a prostitute – I believe we might have gotten the idea even if these scenes had been either trimmed down (length of the scene) or toned down for content. But then again, this film was directed by Daniel Alfredson rather than Niels Arden Oplev. Different strokes for different folks.

In the same way – my brother thinks that this film was better than the first one. I don’t. Once again, different strokes for different folks.

The monster of a bad guy – the big blond giant called Niederman, seemed like a lift from the Bond villain Jaws, played by Richard Kiel, in both The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker. While they didn’t look alike, they were very much alike conceptually. However filmdom bad guys are usually positioned to initially give out severe punishment to others. Although they begun as unique characters their criminal cinematic DNA usually ordains that by the film’s end they will meet their maker…unless of course they are signed on for a sequel.

I also believe that this film was massively truncated as compared to the book. Granted, a lot of the detail about the media coverage, and some of the police investigative techniques that were discussed in depth in the book, realistically didn’t need as much coverage in the film.

I also wondered why Miriam Wu was a Chinese girl in the book, but not in the film.

One more? I didn’t like the ending of this film. The cliff hanging ending seemed too much of a gimmick to get you to invest in the third movie.

But hey, that’s just me. Overall, TGWPWF, is still worth your time.

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