Make it Snappy: 'The Girl Who Played with Fire'

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in "The Girl Who Played with Fire," now at Manlius Art Cinema.

"I used to live in that city!" exclaimed one of my companions as Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) arrives in G teborg on Sweden's southwest coast, having driven the 250 miles or so from one side of the country -- the capital city of Stockholm in the east -- to the other through the night, in search of Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), who's made the same journey a few hours ahead of him. "And I made that same drive every week I was there," she added.

Most US audiences watching "The Girl Who Played with Fire," the second of the Swedish screen versions of the late Steig Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy" novels, won't have that advantage, or even know that the filmmakers actually shot the G teborg scenes on location (even IMDB gets that wrong). But Swedish audiences will know that, especially those who actually live in and around G teborg, where the film had a special screening at that city's international film festival in January.

I mention this because there's been some grumbling about this film and you should not let it keep you away. This installment retains key cast members -- the remarkable Rapace as fugitive computer-hacker Salander and Nyqvist as "Millennium" magazine publisher Blomkvist; also Lena Endre as Erika Berger, Blomkvist's editor-with-benefits, and Peter Andersson as Salander's slimy legal guardian, Nils Bjurman -- and also wisely kept on Jacob Groth to provide the understated but hugely effective, disturbing score. (A word about US-tailored promotion: the image on the movie poster appears nowhere in this film and the trailer's generic thriller music may come from some movie but not this one.) But this film has switched directors (from the virtuoso Niels Arden Oplev to the more workman-like Daniel Alfredson) and cinematographers (from Jens Fischer and Erik Kress to Peter Mokrosinski, whose look is considerably more workmanlike and sometimes out of focus for no discernibly good reason). And you might spend some time objecting to both. But -- proof of the pudding -- this film is over two hours long, and I didn't wonder once how soon we'd get there, especially during the rising dread of the second half.

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