Thursday, July 22, 2010

A movie review: The Girl Who Played With Fire (2010)

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2010)
aka "Flickan som lekte med elden" - Sweden (original title)
(film subtitled in English)

Director - Daniel Alfredson
129 Min; R
Michael Nyqvist – Michael Blomkvist
Noomi Rapace – Lisbeth Salander
Micke Spreitz – Ronald Niedermann
Georgi Staykov – Alexander Zalachenko

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second of a series of 3 novels by Stieg Larsson adapted into Swedish films, the first being The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (My original review of that excellent film can be found here: ). Both Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist reprise their roles as the emotionally scarred yet tender Lisbeth Salander and the fact-finding journalist of the popular Millenium papers.

I wish I could say there was more to compare with the first two films, but unfortunately the cast is about all I can find.

Not since Caddyshack II (1988) came along and ruined the legacy of one of the all-time greatest films have I felt so disappointed in a follow up. Having not read the novels I cannot possibly review this film with any frame of reference regarding the validity of the content, but as for the actual filmed content, well, let’s just say I quickly made a list of things that I would much rather do over the course of 129 minutes than watch the steaming pile of *$%& which occupied the screen:

1. I would rather go to the dentist. The time it takes to get ready, drive there, wait, have my teeth cleaned, settle up and drive home would take roughly the same amount of time it took to watch this film, but at the end of the dentist appointment I would have a nice feeling of satisfaction that something positive had been accomplished.

2. I would rather do my taxes and re-check them for errors.

3. I can’t say I would prefer to have a colonoscopy, but the incredibly empty feeling in my gut after viewing the film would probably be on par with that procedure.

And so I write this review with a very heavy heart, for the first film is one of my favorites of the year, but it can only feel somewhat tainted by this travesty of a follow-up. Whereas violence and sexuality are used with vigor and purpose in the Dragon Tattoo, they are completely misguided and haphazardly placed throughout Fire. Whereas the suspenseful build up of the first film kept you guessing and playing along the entire time, this film spoon feeds you back ground information and then, without being intentional I’m sure, completely loses interest in what it is telling you and leaves you to guess how such a wonderful premise could turn so drab. Whereas in part one Lisbeth and Michael spend quality time feeding off each other as partners seeking to solve a crime, here they barely share the screen as Michael seeks to track down the real killers in a murder of which Lisbeth has been implicated, leaving each to create a new chemistry with those around them that never works.

The appearance of Micke Spreitz as Niedermann would have probably intrigued original James Bond enthusiasts, but to be perfectly fair he is simply the spitting image and character of what you would expect if the albino monk from The Da Vinci Code (2006) mated with Renard, the man who feels no pain from The World Is Not Enough (1999). A large, strong, albino haired man who can’t feel pain and hardly speaks. Yup – that’s what this movie needed to give it a kick! The script becomes absurd with about 45 minutes to go, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, when the credits rolled I literally threw my hands up and huffed. A few people near me let out a chuckle. Could this really be the follow up film? Really? I can only hope I was having some sort of an Inception (2010) moment and eventually I’ll drive off a cliff and wake up and possibly not fully remember what I saw.

Do yourself a favor and see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and then forget the second movie was ever made.

* and a half out of 5

No comments: