Watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was like finding a chilled mojito in the desert after drinking your own wee for months. At last 2010 had something good to offer, and not only that but there were going to be two sequels within the year. Hooray!
Well, Hooroo. The Girl Who Played With Fire takes everything good about its predecessor and buries it six feet underground before telling the investigating officers that it must just be on a long holiday while desperately trying to clean the soil out of its nails.
While ...Dragon Tattoo took time to set up its characters, it still pushed the story forwards, keeping up the pace, injecting tension here and there and drip feeding clues as it went. Conversely, ...Played With Fire is a near-interminable series of long, dull, rambling scenes, some of which have people talking in them, some of which don't. Half way through you've forgotten the point of the story and the film isn't remotely interested in reminding you.
I'm laying the blame for this at the clogs of director Daniel Alfredson, because a) ...Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev did a much better job - his film looked beautiful with its icy blue landscapes, while this looks like it was shot through a bowl of watery soup - and b) it can't be the source material's fault because everyone I know has an exciting incident in their underpants when you mention the books to them.
What rankles more than anything is the abundance of stoopid movie clichés littering this film. I thought I'd fallen into a Swedish Bond flick when I saw the near-mute henchman who's impervious to pain, but when his crippled boss gave a rambling explanatory monologue before half-heartedly leaving a character to die unsupervised, I think I may have emitted an audible groan. And in the unlikely event that I'd been in charge of the subtitling, I would have captioned the scene at the beginning where the protagonist is given a cigarette case for no obvious reason with the words "Thanks! That'll come in handy in the final act when I need something to save my life that the audience has forgotten about."
And don't get me started on the ludicrous survival of almost every character from a major beating; there must be something in the Swedish water that makes you resistant to being shot and buried underground overnight or getting an axe blade firmly rammed into your bonce.
So there you go. Appropriately this post is more boring than the one I wrote about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which doesn't bode well for my review of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, out in November. However when they're all remade by David Fincher with Daniel Craig playing Lisbeth Salander (I think that's right) it should be safe to come back and read without fear of slipping into unconsciousness.
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