“Who is Zala?”: The Girl Who Played with Fire

By: Kyle Hintz. Published: February 11, 2011.

girl who played with fire_normalThe Girl Who Played with Fire is the second film adapted from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, this time helmed by a new director, Daniel Alfredson, brother of director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and a new writer, Jonas Frykberg. Noomi Rapace and Mikael Nyqvist reprise their roles with equally great performances as in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Eighteen months has elapsed since the first film and Lisbeth (Rapace), who has been traveling abroad, decides to return to Stockholm. In all that time, Lisbeth hasn’t been in contact with Blomkvist (Nyqvist), who has resumed his position at Millennium magazine. He recently hired a young journalist, Dag Svensson (Hans Christian Thulin), who is investigating sex trafficking between Sweden and Russia. Svensson’s girlfriend, Mia Bergman (Jennie Silfverhjelm), is writing a thesis on sex trafficking as well.

Svensson begins confronting public officials who are involved in the sex trafficking, stirring the pot enough to get his girlfriend and himself killed. The killers also murder Nils Bjurman (Peter Andersson), Lisbeth’s sadistic legal guardian. Lisbeth is framed for the triple murder and must find the mysterious gangster named ‘Zala’ who seems to be behind the murders.

Throughout the film we learn more of Lisbeth’s past, including a wonderful scene between her and her former guardian Holger Palmgren (Per Oscarsson), who suffered a stroke off screen in the first film, and who appears to have been one of the few positive male influences in her life. The film doesn’t quite manage to equal The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but what film could? Ultimately, it feels like the second act of a three act story, which it is, and as such succeeds, but it works less so as a stand-alone movie. It’s definitely worth a watch, but not as good as the first film in the series.

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