Round two moves like a bullet, too, with some obligatory nods to the complicated backstories and motivations that inflated Dragon Tattoo’s
running time to 2½ hours. Gloomy Noomi Rapace returns as the title
lass, pierced bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, last seen
confronting personal demons and befriending investigative journalist
Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist). Lisbeth’s pervy legal guardian
Bjurman (Peter Andersson) is back, too (for a while, anyway), and his
dastardly presence helps trigger a complex scenario concerning sex
trafficking, guilty johns and the double murders of a hot-dog newshound
and his girlfriend. Lisbeth, naturally, is caught in the middle, with
Mikael intent on clearing her name.
Although only a year has supposedly passed between the central
characters, Rapace has taken on a harder, chiseled look, certainly in
relationship to the damaging events that have shaped Lisbeth’s character
arc, while Nyqvist’s hangdog charm is even more appealing as his Mikael
goes into determined super-sleuth mode. Also aboard for this
installment: a hulking blond assassin (Micki Spreitz), a kickboxing
lipstick lesbian (Yasmine Garbi), and ex-boxer and occasional actor
Paolo Roberto playing himself (!), who at one point gets involved in a
car chase that includes a side trip down a busy Stockholm sidewalk. What
more could art-house mavens possibly want?
Director Daniel Alfredson’s compact style makes solid use of the
Swedish countryside and cities, while also tossing in subtle flourishes
like the sinister john who is always leering at nearby ladies. This
thriller is so compelling, especially with its final reels jammed with
jaw-dropping revelations, viewers will probably not even notice that
Rapace and Nyqvist only share screen time in The Girl Who Played with Fire’s closing minutes.
Music Box Films must be having the same giddy feeling with its Millennium
threesome that United Artists had during the mid-1960s, when the studio
knew it was sitting on a gold mine with its about-to-be-released Dollars
trilogy of director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns starring Clint
Eastwood. While Music Box is reportedly grooming Rapace for Academy
Award contention, Hollywood is prepping the inevitable Americanization
of Dragon Tattoo with Fight Club director David Fincher guiding 007 star Daniel Craig and newbie Rooney Mara (the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street) in the key roles. Fincher and company will have a hard act to follow, let alone successfully emulate.