Smile Politely

If you play with fire

If you play with fire, you are bound to get burned. Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) returns ablaze with fury and vengeance in The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second installment of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. The film picks up exactly where the first one ended, with Lisabeth enjoying the spoils of her acquired riches abroad. However, any sort of easy living is short-lived, as she begins to access her computer hacking skills in order to aid her old friend/lover Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) in his investigation of a sex trafficking ring. However, the tables quickly turn when Blomkvist’s primary sources-the research assistant he hired and his girlfriend that authored the sex trafficking expose- are brutally murdered. Their deaths seem to perfectly timed with the demise of Lisabeth’s sadistic guardian. Naturally, Lisabeth becomes the prime suspect in their murders. Soon she is on the run and in a race to clear her name. Lisabeth can run, but she cannot hide from the secrets of her past that shed light on her abusive childhood, her disturbing psychiatric history, and her subsequent inability to fully give her heart to a man — or a woman.

The Girl Who Played with Fire has its moments — many of which are fantastically violent, sexual, and graphic in all their glory. Lisabeth herself is an arresting character to watch. Long-winded monologues are not her forte, yet her gestures, her penetrating glances, her intricate tattoos and piercings, even a flick of her wrist to spew her perpetual cigarette ash convey more than any soliloquy could offer. She’s nobody’s hero, yet surely nobody’s victim as she fights against all costs for herself, a battle she has seemingly endlessly waged throughout her life. Indeed, her crusade for innocence recalled shades of 1993’s The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, an innocent doctor framed for his wife’s murder, racing against time — and U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones — to bring the real perpetrators to justice. Lisabeth’s battle though of the more underworld, underbelly side of life is hardly less noble in principle.

Although the film lacks the more intense and chilling mystery/thriller aspect of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this is not a mere vehicle to advance the storyline. It is a worthy successor in its own right.

Film critic, Chuck Koplinski, in his News-Gazette review termed the film “pulp fiction for the 21st century.” As fans, we are more than happy to get our hands a little dirty.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is playing exclusively as The Art Theatre this week only — don’t miss your chance to see it and to support independent cinema in C-U.

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