The Girl Who Played with Fire (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner27/08/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 129 mins

Watchable thriller with strong performances from the two returning leads but the mystery isn't as engaging as the first film, there are several narrative missteps and the direction is uninspired.

What's it all about?
Directed by Daniel Alfredson (replacing Niels Arden Oplev), The Girl Who Played with Fire is based on the second book in Stieg Larsson's thriller trilogy and picks up a year after the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with expert hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returning to Sweden where she's promptly framed for three murders, including that of her abusive legal guardian (Peter Andersson) and a journalist working for Mikael Blomkvist's (Michael Nyqvist) Millennium magazine. While attempting to clear Lisbeth's name, Blomkvist follows up the story the victim was working on and soon uncovers evidence of sex trafficking and links to a mysterious Russian mobster known as Zala (Georgi Staykov). But what is Zala's connection to Lisbeth?

The Good
Noomi Rapace has a striking presence as Lisbeth and Nyqvist is superb as Blomkvist, but they aren't allowed to build on the chemistry they shared in the first film, thanks to the curious decision to keep the characters apart for almost the entire running time. Similarly, the film's one memorable set-piece (an escape from a burning barn) seems like a huge narrative misstep because neither of the main characters are involved - it's one thing to be slavish to the source material, but quite another when it means the two leads are offscreen for long periods of time.

The Bad
Alfredson's direction lacks the visual flair and feel for locations that Niels Arden Oplev brought to the first film; as a result, the film betrays its made-for-TV origins. Similarly, the mystery isn't as well-written, as satisfying or as compelling as in the first film (there was a genuine thrill to the deduction and investigation scenes that's missing this time round) and the script's attempts to compensate with knock-off Bond villains (Mikael Spreitz as a blond giant who can't feel pain) and melodramatic plot twists fall disappointingly flat.

On top of that, there are too many superfluous characters - step forward Paolo the boxer (Paolo Roberto) – and a completely gratuitous sex scene that, unlike the similar scenes in the first film, serves no narrative purpose whatsoever.

Worth seeing?
The Girl Who Played with Fire is never less than watchable thanks to the strong performances from the two leads, but it's nowhere near as good as the first film thanks to poor direction and a disappointing script.

Film Trailer

The Girl Who Played with Fire (15)
The Girl Who Played with Fire has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 19/09/2018 01:06

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Foxcatcher (15)

Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum star in this real life inspired story of Olympic talent, fierce competition and murder.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films