Monday, November 29, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)

Sequels are always burdened with the difficult task of living up to the reputation of their predecessor. And in most cases, not even this mean feat is good enough, as most audience members expect an actual improvement on the previous franchise entry. With this strict criteria in mind, it saddens me to admit that 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' (The second film in the Millennium Trilogy) has more than a few problems.

The films most prominent flaw is a basic one, namely that nothing really new is brought to the table, except the logical continuation of the trilogy's interesting storyline, which this time around delves deep into the protagonist's past, resulting in a revealing character study that drives the film to its exciting and riveting conclusion. While the story does have a lot of appeal, it does seem a bit watered-down in comparison to its predecessor, mainly because much of the series' novelty value has now started to wear off.

Still, the story remains the series' greatest achievement, as director Daniel Alfredson does an astounding job (maybe a bit better than the previous director, Niels Arden Oplev) in condensing a huge amount of facts into a tight, well presented package. The sub-plot of sex trafficking is well realized, giving audience members more than enough to chew on as they try to unravel the plot.

"One particular fright came so unexpected that it resulted in me exclaiming a tiny scream - something that hasn't happened to me in years... No, really, I'm quite hardcore."

The ensemble cast also seem better utilized this time around, supporting the movie's line of tension with honest performances that accentuate the dark storyline. Some familiar faces once again join the fray, but there are also a few new characters (like a lesbian boxer and Frankenstein-like baddy) that help to imbue the cast with a sense of freshness. Overall, the acting is superb, as the cast help to keep one in 'the moment of things' till the end credits starts rolling. 

While the sequel has less scares, the few that made the cut really do a brilliant job at giving you a proper jolt in your seat. One particular fright came so unexpected that it resulted in me exclaiming a tiny scream - something that hasn't happened to me in years (No, really, I'm quite hardcore). These scares however take a definite backseat to the movie's dramatic scenes and heated confrontations, probably even more so than in the previous instalment.

To be blunt, The girl who played with fire just doesn't have the same sense of  'innovation' as the first Millennium film, resulting in the franchise acquiring the traits of a mini-series, making one wonder if this isn't merely a very well packaged Hallmark Crime series. This, is not meant as an insult, but merely a warning for those expecting a Hollywood blockbuster, something the Millennium series is definitely not. Those that do however enjoy a solid plot, good acting and a proper dosage of dark will find the movie entertaining all the way.

Small references to American culture are even more ironic in the light of the upcoming remake of the series by American director, David Fincher (Zodiac, The Social network)


* It is recommended  that you watch the first entry of the series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) before giving this film a try. Many crucial story elements are only explained in the first film. Not knowing these particulars will surely affect your experience of the film. Click here for my full review of the first film: http://www.meerkatburrow.com/2010/10/showing-at-numetro-man-som-hatar.html


Rating: 3-and-a-half Meerkat Tails