Swedish murder mystery takes a cue after Hitchcock classics

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the big-screen adaptation of the second installment in the popular Millennium trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson and stars Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, the main protagonists from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Since the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) has been residing on the Caribbean islands for the past year and a half.

Lisbeth leaves the Caribbean when she hears of a sex-trafficking ring involving corrupt Swedish political figures and brings her back to her hometown of Stockholm in order to investigate.

Lisbeth’s acquaintance from the first film, Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist), is the publisher of Millennium magazine and he is also investigating the same case.

When Lisbeth goes on the run after being linked to a series of murder, Mikael instigates his own investigation to clear her name, which reveals a government conspiracy that is linked to Lisbeth’s mysterious past.

The first film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, made its South Florida debut at this year’s Miami International Film Festival and it is currently available on DVD. Moviegoers should see the first film in order to understand the events that lead up to the second film.

The only problem that I have with this film is that there are too many side characters to follow. The story is also a little complicated for moviegoers who may not be familiar with Larsson’s work or with Tattoo.

Unlike Tattoo, where Lisbeth and Mikeal teamed up together to catch a serial killer and spend significant time together throughout the film, Fire keeps them apart for the majority of the movie with each character having their own motives into why and how they started investigating the big sex-trafficking case.

As the movie progresses, there are certain flashback scenes revealing to the audience how Lisbeth became who she is mentally through the physical and sexual abuse she endured in her life.

The pace of the story and the running time of this film are a lot tighter than the previous film. The developments that occur in the story of the film come quickly and avoid any unnecessary subplots to keep the character distracted.

While Tattoo was more of a murder mystery, Fire is more in the vein of classic Alfred Hitchcock films like The 39 Steps and it borrows a little bit of elements from the Bourne franchise where the main protagonist is on the run and needs to clear his name of a crime he’s falsely accused of committing.

The action in The Girl Who Played with Fire is very subdued in terms of the gunplay, fights and car chase sequences that occur.

The action scenes are more realistic unlike the usual over-the-top action films like The Matrix and Bad Boys films. The fight sequence that takes place in a barn between a boxer and a muscular blonde villain in the film looks as realistic as a no-holds-barred brawl would be.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is a great film and follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which borrows certain elements from classic Hitchcock films and has realistic action sequences unlike the mainstream action films.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE: 4.5 stars out of 5

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