Though the thriller is in the hands of a different filmmaking team this time led by Swedish director Daniel Alfredson and screenwriter Jonas Frykberg, they've kept the searing intelligence and ruthless bent.
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Like most second parts of trilogies, this movie is more or less all middle.
The story is far from finished; the film can't help but feel like a bridge to its end. But the power of that partnership forged in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" remains strong.
A firecracker of a story - sharply written, superbly acted, and fast-paced.
The actress gets immeasurable help from the writing: Lisbeth's anger is matched by her intelligence and her physical prowess, which enables her to administer as well as absorb pain in megadoses. But none of it would register without Ms. Rapace's singular combination of eerie beauty and feral intensity. She's a movie star unlike any other.
Noir never has been this dark.
I found The Girl Who Played With Fire more gripping than "Dragon Tattoo," because this one doesn't just play with thriller conventions -- it puts them to work.
Relentless suspense allows The Girl Who Played With Fire to hold you in a viselike grip. But it's the performances of Nyqvist and especially Rapace that keep you coming back for more.
The Girl Who Played With Fire is very good, but a step down from "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," if only because that film and its casting were so fresh and unexpected.
Yes, it's pretty much a must to have seen the first film. Where Dragon Tattoo felt like fall, Played with Fire was shot in the Swedish summer, which suits the faster pace, ramped up violence and fresh collection of supporting players -- cops, a kickboxer, and a couple of borderline Bond villains.