Urban Cinefile
"They used to shoot her through gauze. You should shoot me through linoleum. "  -Tallulah Bankhead on Shirly Temple
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



The Millennium publishing business where Mikael (Mikael Nyqvist) is editor in chief, is about to publish a shocking story from a freelance writer about trafficking in women which names several high profile professionals. On the eve of its publication, the young freelance writer Dag (Hans Christian Tulin) and his girlfriend Mia (Jennie Silfverhjelm) are murdered. Soon, a third murder is discovered, and the clues point to computer hacker Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), who has been incommunicado for a year. Mikael is convinced Lisbeth is innocent and sets off to investigate the sex-trafficking ring, while the police hunt for Elsbeth. During his research, Mikael discovers the shocking secrets in Elsbeth's past.

Review by Louise Keller:
Just like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this enthralling sequel is a mesmerizing tapestry that includes murder, missing persons, corruption, sexual perversions and dark secrets in its complex weave. It's a darned good yarn. But most of all, it is the stickiness of novelist Stieg Larsson's two central characters and the ballast with which Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist portray them, that elevates the tale. Like the raging fire that devours every crevice of a deserted warehouse during a critical plot point, every story element takes hold and gives ample traction as it leads us clue by clue to the chilling conclusion, without knowing exactly where we are heading. We feel as though we are in constant motion and director Daniel Alfredson manages to make 'the now' so riveting that we hardly have time to wonder what is coming next.

When the story begins, a year has passed since the events of the first film and Jonas Frykberg's deft screenplay briefly encapsulates key moments to reinforce that old passions are still alive. Nyqvist's integrity-driven journalist Mikael Blomvsit is about to publish another contentious book while Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) slips back into Sweden after travels abroad and establishes her presence with friends and foes. For those who did not see the first film, a brief reference or flashback to the intimacy that Mikael and Lisbeth shared might have been appropriate, making the innuendo of their journey richer. However, it is a small quibble. There is a tangible magnetic connection between them, despite few actual scenes together and two sex scenes with other people, one of which (with Lisbeth and her lesbian lover) is graphic.

Rapace is simply sensational as the chain-smoking, petite brunette with tattoos, a dark past and grim determination, while charismatic Nyqvist counters the balance beautifully. It's a complex story filled with tension, action and mental gymnastics. All the cast is excellent with Micke Spreitz memorable as Niedermann, the imposing blond wrestler who feels no pain (I gasped aloud at one startling moment) and Georgi Staykov is haunting as the mysterious Zala, the revelations about whose identity marries all the plot points. It's a riveting, intriguing and satisfying film which leaves us waiting with great anticipation for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the third and final film of the trilogy.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The sometimes shocking always gripping story of Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) and her fight to survive her past continues with the same level of intensity and power as the first instalment of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. If you haven't seen that film, I recommend you see it first, for your own benefit; it isn't essential; you'll quickly get up to speed with the fine story telling in evidence here, with new director Daniel Alfredson.

Some of Sweden's finest actors populate this drama with assurance and credibility; every scene is delivered with veracity and observation. The characters - not just the leads - are tangible and multi-dimensional, adding great weight to the intricate (but highly accessible) story. There are several layers, all of them driven by clear agendas as we discover through revelations. Themes include everything from love (in various forms) to revenge, from friendship to duty.

Noomi Rapace is again sensational; her singular face, which despite her naturally stoic nature, offers the filmmakers a wonderful canvas on which we see the birth and progress of many emotions. Lisbeth is a heroine from left field: bi-sexual, troubled by demons we know about, a loner yet yearning for inner peace and outer harmony, she stands outside society, which has so far repeatedly let her down.

Mikael Nyquist is a durable, unglamorous hero figure, driven by decency and a genuine affection for Lisbeth, which in the first film found some expression sexually. Here, Lisbeth is more actively lesbian, but that relationship subplot is very effectively in service of the storyline. Nyquist's Mikael doesn't need to use violence to do the right thing and get a result - a factor that separates the film from Hollywood norm. That doesn't mean violence is absent, indeed, there are a couple of confronting scenes of violence; and Lisbeth herself has had to acquire fighting skills to survive.

Thoroughly engaging and dark but satisfying, the story of the Girl Who Played With Fire fulfils our need to examine humanity through every prism available - that's what writers are supposed to do for us. And filmmakers, too.
Published first in the Sun-Herald

Email this article

Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0


(Sweden/Denmark/Germany, 2009)

Flickan som lekte med elden

CAST: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sofia Ledarp, Peter Andersson, Georgi Staykov, Yasmine Garbi, Micke Spreitz, Tehilla Blad, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Paolo Roberto, Hans Christian Tulin, Jennie Silfverhjelm

PRODUCER: Soren Staermore

DIRECTOR: Daniel Alfredson

SCRIPT: Jonas Frykberg (novel by Stieg Larsson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Mokrosinski

EDITOR: Mattias Morheden

MUSIC: Jacob Groth

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jan Olof Ågren, Maria Håård

RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 23, 2010

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020