I have huge reservations, but Fincher is on form right now. Will Rooney Mara be able to escape the shadow of Noomi Rapace though? We’ll find out in December it seems.
You may have loved ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’, but this follow-up sadly isn’t in the same league. And it’s a shame because the starting premise is pretty good – Michael Nyqvist’s Mikael Blomkvist, with the help of a cub reporter in his ‘Millennium’ magazine, uncovers a sex trafficking ring, and embarks on exposing the prominent politicians and public figures who have partaken of its victims. So far so unremarkable, until the cub reporter and his girlfriend end up executed, and enigmatic ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Lisbeth Salander (the mesmerising Noomi Rapace) finds herself in the frame. She must then race against time to uncover who is behind the trafficking plot, and reveal who is conspiring against her.
This second Stieg Larsson adaptation’s cast is as strong as the first’s, but where the first film languished in an undercurrent of foreboding, telling more of the story through the performances and the direction than the script, this sequel comes across pretty ordinary. ‘Dragon Tattoo’ had some superb production values – they’re not mirrored here. It also had some remarkably strong characterisation, particularly amongst the supporting cast – it’s not replicated here. Mystifyingly ‘Played With Fire’ doesn’t even attempt strong characterisation, and whilst the plot offers elements which are interesting, and starts out with a lot of potential, it then just rests on its laurels and ends up pretty pedestrian.
Daniel Alfredson is nowhere near as good a director as Niels Arden Oplev, but he’s aided in his task by a cast who can do this in their sleep. Rapace effortlessly holds the screen as she digs ever deeper into the conspiracy against her, but the result is quite disappointing and the inclusion of a Bond-esque superhuman giant is quite irritating. Rapace’s screen partnership with Nyqvist is enjoyable again, although not remotely as intricate or as interesting as it was portrayed in the previous film. Ultimately the film is undermined by quite serious production deficiencies, making it look more like a TV movie (which it ironically eventually graduates into after the third film), and plot weaknesses (she can survive multiple bullet wounds whilst fully buried underground?!), prevent this from becoming the must-see which ‘Dragon Tattoo’ was. For Stieg Larsson afficionados only I’d say.