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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(2009)

I had previously seen  this, but not in the form of the extended (two-part TV version) of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I'm not sure it gains a huge amount from having an extra 30 minutes to play with. TGWPWF (below) is 50 minutes longer than the cinema release, so some fairly hefty pruning went on. 


***1/2




The Girl Who Played with Fire
(2009)


While the character of Lisbeth Salander features as a protagonist in solving a murder mystery in the first film, here her backstory is very much central to the plot. In part seeing this second installment only confirmed that Stieg Larrson's plotting and characterisation hit strictly B-movie notes. On that level it works as an effective thriller, replete with the same kind of overblown third act developments that made it difficult to take its predecessor too seriously (the burial scene is particularly hard to swallow).

Daniel Alfredson (brother of Tinker Tailor director Tomas) takes over from Niels Arden Opley as director and directs efficiently. The story's structured to keep Blomkvist and Lisbeth separate for most of the running time, which works surprisingly well. The police investigation seems to be mostly composed of idiots, which highlights the clunkiness of Larrson's wish fulfilment fantasty with his two leads. I think Michael Nyqvist makes a better Blomkvist than Daniel Craig, but I prefer Rooney Mara's Lisbeth. Noomi Rapace gives a good performance, but she feels a touch too mature for the part.

***1/2



The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
(2009)

I'd probably rate this as the best of The Millenium Trilogy, even if the resolution was a little too neat and tidy. Salander and Blomkvist are again separated for much of the running time, with the former awaiting trial for events in the previous film (I can see why the plan - should they go ahead - is to film the US sequels back-to-back). This probably engaged me more than the others due to the machinations of the conspiracy surrounding Salander, which takes centre stage. For a change with a conspiracy plot, the main wheels of government aren't identified as villainous. But the pervading suspicion of police and corruptibility of power structures is persistent.

Alfredson returns to direct and stages some effective set pieces (most notably an attack on a cafe). He might have been wise to rein in some of the dafter elements (although let's face it, they're in abundance), including Salander showing up in court in full punk regalia and piercings (I'm not sure even Sweden would let that pass) and a showdown that seems to be something of an afterthought. Definitely at its strongest in the opening half, with its creeping paranoia and sense of futility, before the tide turns.

***1/2

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