For those who can’t get enough of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy in all its book/movie incarnations, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” will no doubt be required viewing. For those of us not so fanatically inclined, this follow-up to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” resembles nothing so much as a workmanlike TV crime thriller.
In fact, the film was originally intended solely for television. (The first installment was also shot for television but conceived as a big-screen theatrical release.) Director Daniel Alfredson – who also shot the third film, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” due out in the fall – keeps things moving as the torchings, gougings, and throttlings proceed apace. All the familiar players reappear including, of course, investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and hacker misfit Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), whose dragon tattoo is prominently displayed, like a bar code.
Lisbeth is accused of murdering two of Mikael’s researchers who were working on an article on international sex-trafficking implicating high-level Swedes. Mikael is convinced she’s innocent. An impressive array of bad guys turn up, including a jumbo thug (Micke Spreitz) who literally feels no pain, but only Lisbeth strikes sparks. It’s said that Larsson had Pippi Longstocking in mind when he created her, and, in a punkish way, that makes sense. She’s a fairy-tale hellion. Grade: B- (Rated R for brutal violence including a rape, some strong sexual content, nudity, and language.)