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

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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.

Carmen.

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

Fire

con­tin­ued from Page 64

Dragon Tat­too,

Mil­len­nium,

Dragon Tat­too,

All My Chil­dren.

Dragon Tat­too,

Dragon Tat­too).

Have you tried turn­ing it off and on again? Noomi Ra­pace

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