The Girl Who Played With Fire

Rated R

It's taken U.S. readers a few years to get to know Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of three posthumously released books. Part one of the crime trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, is this year's surprise bestseller — a gripping story about a 25-year-old antisocial computer hacker who gets involved with a magazine publisher facing jail time for libel. The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second story, takes place a year after Dragon Tattoo. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) hires two young writers to investigate a sex-trafficking ring, but as they're wrapping up the story, someone kills them. The creepy guardian who raped a young Lisbeth is also murdered. Lisbeth's (Noomi Rapace) fingerprints are found on the gun, and now it's Mikael's turn to rescue her. Lisbeth is a fetching protagonist: She has multiple piercings, she chain-smokes, she’s bisexual…and then there’s that big-ass dragon tattoo running down her back. Director Daniel Alfredson wisely builds The Girl Who Played With Fire as a suspense film, slowly piling up the tension as the crime unravels. Still, the first movie — and book, for that matter — was better at maintaining momentum. There's too much sitting and talking, as characters hash out plot details. But when Lisbeth gets down to ass-kicking, it cuts to the heart of the movie. Lisbeth is a heroine for the millennium and a feisty fireball you really don’t want to piss off.

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