Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre
Directed by: Daniel Alfredson (“Tic Tac”)
Written by: Jonas Frykberg (“Details”)

Based on the crime novel by late Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” is the second installment of his popular Millennium trilogy. The series, which centers on a young, gothic computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), started with the disturbing and highly-compelling “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and will end with “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” With a different director and screenwriter than “Tattoo,” “Fire,” unfortunately, falters.

In “Fire,” Lisbeth goes on the run when she is suspected of a triple murder. One of the victims is a journalist who works with Lisbeth’s friend Mikael (Michael Nyqvist). He is executed when he is on the verge of releasing a magazine article on sex trafficking that implicates a number of criminals involved in the ring.

Unable to stand on its own, it really is mandatory to see “Tattoo” before aimlessly walking into the second movie. Without the fascinating background, it’s impossible to get a sense of the characters and their motivations. While “Fire” does reveal some history about where Lisbeth’s anger and vengeful nature stems from, the depth of these once unshakeable personalities is less intriguing in round two.

A character like Lisbeth deserves so much more from a script built around her edginess and independence. Whether we’ll see that from Rapace and screenwriters in the final installment or in the future American remake of “Tattoo” by director David Fincher (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) is still unclear, but what we do know is “Tattoo” set the bar high and it’s going to take a whole lot more than the cliché plot and twists in “Fire” to find its footing once again.

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