Lisbeth Salander’s flame burns like fire. She is the cyber genius with a punk-rock look and prominent cheekbones. This impulsive yet calculating, free spirited, abused chameleon is fiery like no other. Few female characters captivate such a complexity. As a modern icon, Salander balances both strength and vulnerability. In the film "The Girl Who Played with Fire", the extension of the "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" that stormed the world’s box offices, she has an even more central role. Again, played by Noomi Rapace, she’s like a bloodhound on a deer hunt. Here Salander returns to Sweden after a year abroad. She finds herself under suspicion for having committed the murder of her guardian and two journalists investigating Sweden's sex traffic trade. She and Mikael Blomkvist separately pursue their own leads to learn the truth about the deaths and the mysterious figure at the center of it all.

Salander drives the narrative
Without Salander the film wouldn’t really stand out - it literarily gives a feel of being a middle film. One should see the first film, or read Stieg Larsson's books to better appreciate it. As the backbone, Salander sometimes drives the narrative more than the actual narrative. Helmed by Daniel Alfredson, the story is gripping and entertaining. The suspense builds gradually but the consistency stumbles. Repeating coffee shop dialogs, a conventional soundtrack, a blond Bond-villain-cum-giant and other hesitant supporting actors (Per Oscarsson as a stunning exception) contrast the atmosphere. The film falls into the action/thriller genre (burning barn, kick boxing scenes, axes and a bloody face) however it leaves you yearning for tighter editing.
The strength of the film is the tension between Salander and Blomkvist (they hardly meet) and the uncertainty of their inevitable collision. Noomi Rapace is a knock out sensation, other potential actresses in potential remakes will have to work hard to find her credibility. There is no doubt that Lisbeth Salander is one of the most exciting fictional post-feminist heroines of our time, sisterly connected to Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" films, Jodie Foster in "The Silence of the Lamb"s, and "Nikita’s" Anne Parillaud. Her feverish sensitivity and dragon fearlessness haunts both book pages and wide screens. Hey Miss Salander, we just can’t quit you!
"The Girl Who Played with Fire" opens on July 9.


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