Don’t mess with the I.T. department
The Girl Who Played With Fire, crime drama, rated R, in Swedish with subtitles, The Screen, 3 chiles
It would be a shame to mess up the heady momentum of the cinema franchise known as the Millennium Trilogy, so it’s satisfying to report that things are still pretty much on track here. The Girl Who Played With Fire, may not be as good as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but it’s not chopped liver either. And as anybody knows who has engaged in discussions with people who have devoured all three of the Stieg Larsson novels, each reader has his or her favorites, and consensus is as elusive as truth in politics. The same should be true of the movies.
In case you’ve been living in a cave in Tora Bora for the last year or so (you know who you are) and have missed the excitement of this series, the Millennium Trilogy is composed of three crime thrillers by Larsson, a crusading Swedish journalist who died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 2004, just before his literary offspring took the world by storm. As you would expect in the case of a man who dealt in skullduggery and intrigue,
The Girl Who Played With Fire, his sudden demise has kicked up a hornet’s nest of conspiracy theories, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to them.
The novels include the two titles already mentioned and
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,
which has been out in Europe since 2007, but was just published in the U.S. this May (the movie will be released here in the fall). The series has sold more than 27 million copies worldwide, with no end in sight. And the Millennium Trilogy may turn out to be a Millennium Quartet, if a fourth novel, said to have been left unfinished on Larsson’s laptop, ever sees the light of day. At this point, about all that’s known of the phantom manuscript is that it was about three-quarters finished when Larsson died, and that it follows protagonists Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander to remote Banks Island in Canada’s Northwest Territories. But the book is wrapped up in a rights wrangle between Larsson’s family and his life partner Eva Gabrielsson. Given Larsson’s focus on the mistreatment of women, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t side with Gabrielsson in the dispute, but he’s not around to give an opinion.
So — the story. In the first movie, we met the main characters, the stolid but sexually prolific reporter Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) and Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace), the sexually abused ward of the state who can make a computer sit on its hind legs and sing the Habanera from Lisbeth is petite, but she’s tough as nails, and she’s all about vengeance. If there is a lesson to be learned from books one and two, it’s this: don’t mess with Lisbeth.
picks up a year or so after the end of and almost immediately gets its heroine embroiled in serious trouble. Mikael is back at the muckraking magazine from which he had to take a leave of absence in and he has hired a writer who wants to do a searing exposé of the Swedish sex trade: the girls who are its victims and the big shots, cops, and politicians who are its enablers, clients, protectors, and profiteers. The writer and his pregnant girlfriend are murdered, and suspicion alights on Lisbeth. Tabloids scream LESBIAN SATANIST SOUGHT IN DOUBLE MURDER, and Lisbeth must track down the real killers while avoiding capture. Mikael is separately trying to track them down — and to track down Lisbeth, who is avoiding him. The two don’t actually share the screen until the finale.
The brutality in this movie is not primarily sexual — there is nothing like the scenes of violation and revenge that stirred so much buzz in
and the main sex scene is of a fairly lively lesbian coupling — but there is plenty of violence nonetheless. As noted, Lisbeth takes crap from nobody, whether they are rape-inclined bikers or lowlifes from higher echelons. The villains include a blond giant who is immune to pain, a psychiatrist, and a former Soviet spy who turns out to have a startling connection with the heroine. The far-fetched action includes a plot twist at the end that would be at home on
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All My Children.
Have you tried turning it off and on again? Noomi Rapace