“The Girl Who played With Fire”
Sequels are always more difficult than
originals. What begins as a
fresh idea becomes, in the re-warming, a kind of cinematic leftover.
It just doesn’t tantalize the taste buds any more.
Noomi Rapace, playing Lisbeth Salandar, practically burned a hole in
the screen in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
She was edgy, dangerous, sexy, brilliant, and, despite her small
stature, an adversary you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.
Now, having somehow latched on to a small fortune, she’s just
another anonymous expatriate with a Cayman Islands bank account, staring at
the ocean and smoking cigarettes. Eventually,
bored silly, she makes her way back to
, where her old ally, Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) now works for a news
magazine. She looks up an old
lover, and after one desultory liaison, gives her the apartment for a while,
so Lisbeth can continue to be incognito, but after one ill-advised foray to
re-threaten an old nemesis, she manages to get falsely accused of murder,
and now the police are after her. So
somehow she has to clear her name while on the run.
(Shades of the old American plot of “The Fugitive”).
Rehashing the back story of how Lisbeth, as a teenager, set fire to
her Dad, who was abusing her Mom, we also re-visit her sobering background
in institutions for the criminally insane, and her subsequent degradation by
her parole officer, on whom she exacted a literal revenge.
But now, instead of rooting for her to survive her horrific ordeal
with at least a modicum of sanity intact, we’re just watching her indulge
in old-fashioned vigilante justice, which still makes her edgy, but hardly
endearing. Mikael, meanwhile,
seems to be attracting the attention of a perfectly nice woman a lot closer
to his age, but remains obsessed, still, with the haunting, brooding
presence of the enigmatic Lisbeth.
Throw in an old Russian KGB angle, a stakeout and shootout in a barn,
and a little bit of instant computer expertise, and you have a film that’s
no longer so out of the ordinary. Yes,
we’re still set up for Part Three, but we like our heroines to look, well,
not so much like they’re strung out on heroin.
And our leading man could maybe be…something other than a
middle-aged, slightly frumpy, ordinary-looking magazine writer.
And 130 minutes starts feeling pretentious when there’s so much
footage of standard sedans driving normal speeds on regular roads.
Sure, there’s still a lot of Danish Gothic here, but without the
cloaked-in-mystery, sharply-honed drama, the viewer may well tire of the
pervading self-important humorlessness of it all.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace