Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) has been doing some digging recently and discovered the man who has been meant to write flattering reports on her to ensure she still gets her allowance, is planning a tattoo removal session. She is not pleased at all about this, for it is she who gave him the tattoo, and the reason for that is he was raping her to keep her under his thumb, so she got her revenge by printing his stomach with a phrase telling the world exactly what he is. But when she breaks into his apartment one night, she discovers those reports - those blank reports.
The Girl Who Played with Fire was the second in the Stieg Larsson trilogy of bestselling novels to be adapted after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which had won worldwide acclaim, yet this time around there were grumblings that the magic from before was not quite replicated in this instalment. That in spite of the style and plot being more of the same, with very little to distinguish it from its predecessor; again, it wasn't a bad movie, just run of the mill as the first one had been. That said, this time around the violence was a shade less brutal, although the climax nevertheless featured our heroine suffering mightily once again.
Seeing as how last time around Larsson's concerns with female exploitation were very much carried over to here, it was curious how eager he had been to put his female characters through such ordeals to prove his point, which may from some angles look less like an endorsement of right on credentials and more wallowing in the violence and humiliation for thrills. Not a path which many fiction writers - and moviemakers - has shied away from, but giving the people populating these tales such a hard time tended to undercut the more noble pretensions. Still, as far as creating a reasonable amount of suspense, certainly this effort was fair enough on its own terms.
One issue you might have had here was that the plot took a good half hour to get off the starting blocks, in this instance another conspiracy yarn which here didn't concentrate on a corrupt family of zillionaires, but the corruption of the authorities who would turn a blind eye to evildoing if it is politically expedient to do so. As it stands, although that was set out as the main concern, it was rather fumbled as a theme because they appeared more interested in uncovering the murky past of Lisbeth, and having us work out just why we got those flashbacks to her childhood in the first film which saw her setting a man on fire.
Rest assured, all was revealed, or at least enough to keep you watching for the next episode, for that sense of watching feature length television specials which afflicted The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was very much in evidence here as well (a TV version aired in its homeland). Also the neat if wary double act Lisbeth and Mikael (Michael Niqvist) had going on was thrown out the window when they spend the story in separate plotlines, almost as if this was two films edited together for more coherence - they don't meet again until the movie is practically over. But the mood of intrigue reaching into the highest echelons of society and leaving the little man (or woman) to suffer was fairly well conveyed as Mikael finds his latest investigation - why a colleague and his girlfriend were killed over their human trafficking articles - meshing with Lisbeth's framing for their murder. Perfectly watchable, then, but as before, hard for non-aficionados to see what the fuss was about. Music by Jacob Groth.