Movie Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009)

October 5, 2010 in Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

After missing two preview screenings, I finally got a chance to catch The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second film in the hugely successful Millennium trilogy based on the books by the late Stieg Larsson.  This time, I went into the cinema not having read the book (which I have, but have been too busy to tackle), which got me a little excited because I had no idea what it was about.

At the end of the day, The Girl Who Played with Fire was okay.  It’s not as horrible as some reviewers say it is (like this one that gave it 0/5 stars), though it’s certainly not as good as some others say either (like Ebert, who gave it 3.5/4).  To me, even though it was adequate and engaging for the most part, it was still ultimately a disappointment.

The Girl Who Played with Fire takes begins shortly after the end of the first film, with the titular character, Lisbeth Salander (played once again in a brilliant performance by Noomi Rapace), on a ‘break’.  The man whose life she saved in the first film, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is back at Millennium magazine and looking into a potential article on the sex-trafficking trade in Sweden.  Like the first film, the two main characters carry the film despite leading separate paths, and to be honest, it was almost like watching two separate movies at times.

Also like the first film (and the book), this one is also what I would consider a ‘slow burn’.  Actually, the pace is probably even slower.  I don’t have a problem with that, but to me, the plot was not as exciting as what I had expected.  Instead of a slick detective adventure into the seedy underworld of sex-trafficking, The Girl Who Played with Fire is really a more personal tale about Salander’s past.  Even when there were murders and a couple of mysteries involved, it never escalated into the adrenaline-pumping thriller I hoped it would be.  It remained mildly interesting but the story simply plodded along with a few unsurprising twists and left me feeling a little empty by the end.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still an above-average thriller, but that’s all it is.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, but is it wrong to expect more out of a film based on the biggest selling books in the world right now?

3 stars out of 5