The Girl Who Played With Fire (2010) dir. Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis
By Alan Bacchus
The sad realization that the film version of The Girl Who Played With Fire was going to disappoint set in early. The previous and highly successful Dragon Tattoo film was a marvellously trashy serial killer thriller featuring a dense but understandable narrative, complete in its own right but with enough backstory to tease us that another entry in the story could be just as good.
But, for some reason the producer hired another director to shoot Fire, and even the final episode, The Girl Who Kicked in the Hornet’s Nest. As the opening scene trotted along it was clear there was a different directorial hand at work. Under the eyes and ears of Niels Arden Oplev, the first film had style to burn, a cold and emotionally detached formalism which kept the audience on edge. In Fire under the artistic hand of Daniel Alfredson, it’s a dull uninspired ‘television look, some handheld photography marred by inconsistent look opposite to Oplev’s streamlined visuals.
As for the story, we’re back in the shoes of goth hacker Lisbeth Salander, whose hair is longer and more businesslike. She’s still blackmailing that sicko pederast parole officer who raped her in the previous movie. But when he turns up dead, suddenly she’s framed for murder and on the run from the police. Poor Lisbeth also gets framed for the murder of a couple of young journalists doing a story on sex trafficking, to be published by none other than Millenium Magazine. Enter Dragon Tattoo’s hero Mykael Blomkvyst who endeavours to track Lisbeth down and help her clear her name.
The link-ups to the previous film and the expansion of the Salander backstory are welcome, but we don’t sufficiently learn anything new about Lisbeth the character that we didn’t infer from the first film. We knew she had daddy issues, as seen by the grisly flashbacks to her burning her father with some gasoline and a match.
There’s a bunch of news characters, the most peculiar of which is this film’s heavy, a robotic henchmen characterized as an indestructible robotic beast not all that dissimilar from Jaws from the Bond franchise. A number of fight scenes with this oaf go on way too long, in particular a lengthy hand to hand combat with a muy thai boxer, the most inexplicably long fight scene since Roddy Piper and Keith David wrestled over a pair of sunglasses in They Live.
Other than the staid direction, Fire suffers mostly from the staleness of the material. Salander, Blomkvist and the three decades long serial killer was exciting. In Fire, the sex trafficking linkup with Salander’s backstory finds Salander is not as fresh.
Knowing that this Alfredson guy directed the last episode, my hype factor of Hornet’s Nest is very low but also encouraged that there's room for David Fincher to improve on this material.
'The Girl Who Played With Fire' is available on Blu-Ray from Alliance Films in Canada.