Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire Still Smolders

The Girl Who Played With FireWhile the Hollywood remakes are not far off, one wonders if a string of remakes are even necessary. Noomi Rapace delivers an intensity to Lisbeth Salander that will be nearly impossible to match. Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist is endearing.

The first two films are near perfect, with the Swedish production adding that much more authenticity. It may be a sequel, but it's also a reminder that sometimes less is more. Sometimes it feels rare for Hollywood to deliver a "great movie" without reminding us that it is a movie.

Most critics didn't fall in love with Fire like they did The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Most of them only downgraded the second installment slightly because the story line is a bit straightforward, and to distinguish it from their praise for the original. The explanation that the first film was "fresh and unexpected" is mediocre at best. Films deserve a chance to stand on their own.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is what it is. It might be a more fast-paced detective story as opposed to a pulp fiction mystery, but had someone not seen Dragon, I suspect they would have been more receptive. It delivers.

The Girl Who Played With Fire Expands On The Original.

The premise becomes predictable, but still delivers a slightly less intense story line. Salander is being framed for a multiple homicide — two journalists and her loathed guardian, Bjurman. From the police perspective, it's open and shut.

Salander's fingerprints are on the gun, an accidental coincidence as she uses the weapon to threaten her guardian into continuing to make positive reports. After the murderer kills Bjurman, the same gun is used to kill reporter Dragan Svensson (Hans Christian Thulin) and his girlfriend, Mia Bergman (Jennie Silfverhjelm), who are uncovering a sex trafficking operation.

As the "johns" are confronted, it becomes clear the murderer is one of almost twenty suspects. The story would have offered a different twist if the audience were given enough doubt of Salander's innocence, perhaps to protect the identity of the murderer for fear of being connected to him.

However, it would not have been in her character. She doesn't care much about what people might think of her, not even her friends.

Sure, she seems remorseful when several friends express their disappointment that she didn't stay in touch while traveling the world. There is something else conveyed. She is like the scorpion who stings the frog while being helped across the river. She cannot help it. It's in her nature.

Along with familiar characters, The Girl Who Played With Fire reveals more about Salander's girlfriend, Miriam Wu (Yasmine Garbi) and introduces Paolo Roberto, who plays an earlier version of himself. Roberto is a former boxer, tae kwon do champion, and kickboxing champion. He later went on to perform in Let’s Dance, the Swedish version of Dancing with the Stars.

Without question, most people will lean toward The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with its elaborate plot and voyeuristic brutality. I almost prefer the second adaption from the best-selling books by Stieg Larsson for its straightforward subtlety that delves deeper into Salander and what made her the way she is.

The Girl Who Played With Fire Smolders With A 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale

The Girl Who Played With Fire is available on iTunes. It is is also on Amazon.

It is the sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and precedes the already anticipated The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, which is still in theaters and has also been the least well received of the series. Some call it the equivalent to tidying up a television series. We shall see.
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