Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Written by Jonas Frykberg based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyquist, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Georgi Staykov
129 minutes
Released in US, July 2010

If the GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO had elements of the traditional country house mystery, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE feels more like a conventional police procedural/thriller. Of course running through both films (and the third) is the story of an abused child/woman and how that abuse has shaped her. Larsson first title for his series: MEN WHO HATE WOMEN sums up his most important theme.

We know the cast better now, so some of the “getting to know you” aura of the first film is gone. I’m told by two avid fans of the series that saw the film with me about half of the book is missing here: especially the fleshing out of a lot of secondary characters and a fuller exploration of the sex trade trafficking and the politics involved in dealing with it. I’m not sure if these omissions were important ones.

PLOT: Lisbeth Salander, on a year’s hiatus from her murky past in Stockholm, is framed for the murder of two journalists who were exposing a sex-trafficking ring for Millennium Magazine. When her warden is murdered too that’s included in the felony charges. Along the way, she meets up with her past and must rescue both herself and her friends with the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist.

If THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is somewhat of a letdown, coming on the heels of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, it was pretty much inevitable. The director has completely succumbed to Rapace’s charms and lingers too lovingly on every move she makes. However, she is also its biggest asset along with Nyqust as Mikael Blomkvist. The story also seems overly reliant on what are now stereotypes in police procedurals. I could have done with a few less scenes of graphic torture, too.

However, it’s an exciting film, well-made and well-cast. If it fades a bit in comparison to the first of the trilogy, it still offers a multitude of pleasures for $12.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.