Finally, a movie that makes viewers want to read the source material, if only to discern what the fuck they just spent $10 watching at the theater. Daniel Alfredson takes over directing duty for the second installment of “The Girl” trilogy, based on Stieg Larsson’s immensely popular Swedish thriller series, and produces an experience a halfstep away from made-for-TV-land that culminates in a laugh-out-loud-ridiculous finale of massive headwounds, sadistic old men, and live burial.
Plotwise, you must see the first film or have read at least the first book to begin to parse the ensuing wackiness. Alfredson typically directs television in Sweden, and it shows — not only in his straightforward cinematography, but also in his inability to compact a 596-page book into two hours. While the books may well make logical leaps, the movie tramples over common sense, beginning with the first unanswered question: Why would protagonist Lisbeth Salander, who absconded to the Carribbean with a stolen fortune at the end of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, ever return to Stockholm?
The heart of the film is Salander (played with silent righteousness by Rapace) and her struggle to clear her name after she’s suspected of murdering a couple investigating sex trafficking for Millenium magazine, where Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist), Salander’s partner in crime from the first film, is editor. Unfortunately, Rapace and Nyqvist share but one brief scene, and none of the crackling chemistry that saved Dragon Tattoo. As the film hones in on Salander’s creepy family secrets, the sex traffickers fade to black, as do the dozens of newly introduced characters. Even loner/genius Salander can’t carry this film’s entire weight.
Normally, we would not recommend the Hollywood adaptation of a foreign film series based on European novels, but, given this ho-hum effort and confirmed rumors of David Fincher’s (Seven, Fight Club) involvement in the upcoming Americanized version of “The Girl” trilogy, it sounds like it’s worth the wait. •