Noomi Rapace as ace hacker Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as investigative journalist Mikael Blomqvist are back in the second part of the Millennium series written by the late Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Played with Fire. Published last July, this trilogy is the first translated novel(s) to be on the New York Times Bestseller list in a quarter of a century. This time the translation of the title of this new film and novel is true to the original Swedish. ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" the first part of the trilogy in Swedish is Män som Hatar Kvinnor- Men Who Hate Women).
We last left Lisbeth somewhere in southern Europe where she had made a fortune through hacking. Now back in Sweden she has bought an expensive apartment overlooking the Stockholm Harbor. On the mail slot is the name "V. Kulla" that stands for Villekulla, none other than the home of Pippi Longstockings. The book by Astrid Lindgren about a young girl who lived on her own and could lift a horse was inspirational to Stieg Larsson.
The "Millennium" journal that Mikael works for has taken on an assignment to investigate trafficking among teenage girls between Sweden and Eastern Europe. Two young journalists are murdered and then another murder takes place and Lisbeth is falsely accused of doing them, forcing her to go underground. But she is hard on the trail again as is Mikael to find out who is behind the murders. The trail leads to men in high places.
Noomi Rapace steals every scene she is in. Realize that she is NOT a girl, but a young woman. For her role, she studied martial arts and learned to ride a motorcycle. Her timing and physical presence is powerful and she amazingly bites back so Zen like that it is hard to realize how a young hacker can bring so many men in high positions to their downfall.
Lisbeth set her abusive stepfather on fire as a child and was institutionalized as a 12-year-old girl. Her past bears on her current predicament and she is forced to confront it. Everyone is out to shut her down, and yet she quietly and effectively works to solve the murders she is falsely accused of, and Mikael works alongside her, unbeknownst to her, to get the bad guys.
There has to be a lull in the middle part of a trilogy, and there is in this one, adequately directed by Daniel Alfredson, but watch for the finale in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (In Swedish "The Air Castle That Was Blown Up" - Luftslottet som Sprängdes).
All three films have been out in Sweden for a year and were originally made for Swedish TV. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was 180 minutes compared to the theatrical version of 152 minutes (US) and The Girl Who Played with Fire is 129 minutes (US) and 180 minutes for the TV production.