A fierce and controlled performance by the increasingly adept Noomie Rapace lifts this film to excellence. Her Lisbeth Salander crackles with energy and it is impossible to imagine what the Hollywood remake of any of Stieg Larsson’s books could do to match her. She has a stare that reminds me of when Clint Eastwood glinted his way through “A Fistful Of Dollars”.
Yet there is an essential weakness in this. The hype means it lacks the freshness and surprise of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” but the plot is better sustained. Violence is still genuinely shocking. Yet the lovely chemistry between Rapace and Mikael Nykvist (as Blomqvist) is sorely missed as they are only together here for a brief time. When Rapace isn’t on screen, the film sags a little.
The last three quarters of an hour is as gripping a thriller as anything I have ever seen and storms to a fantastic finish. Yet the first parts fail to grab you quite as much as “Tattoo” did and I found myself looking at my watch, twice. When it really gets going, it does compel you to pay full attention.
The plot of “Tattoo” was about fascism and misogyny and here the story centres around Salander’s own past, institutional corruption and the sex industry. Salander has been away for a year and comes back to Stockholm. She is framed for murder and campaigning journalist Mikael Blomquist vows to prove her innocence.
Daniel Alfredson takes over directing duties from the first movie’s Niels Arden Oplev and I think the style works a little less well. Screenwriting now goes to Jonas Frykberg and the writing isn’t as smooth as in the previous film, until the last half. Stieg Larsson’s characters still shine through, but it takes about half the movie to get going properly.
There are many wonderful performances. Given that I have to look up the spelling of every single one, you know that those I spell-checked act exceptionally. Lena Andre’s Erika, Sofia Ledarp’s Malin, Hans-Christian Thulin as Dag, Peter Andersson’s Nils Bjurman, Mikael Spreitz as Niedermann, Paolo Roberto, Ralph Carlsson, Per Oscarsson, Georgi Staykov, Yasmine Garbi and many others form a great ensemble and have impressive individual moments. When the Millennium magazine editorial board meets, the scene and relationships feel real.
I also have to mention the fantastic young actress Tehila Blad who plays the young Lisbeth Salander to perfection.
It’s enjoyable and thoughtful and very distinct from any Hollywood movie. The Swedish cities and landscape are stars in their own right and it all looks really good. The music is impressive in assisting the action, unobtrusively. I think I will probably have to see it again as I may be more sympathetic to the early scenes when I see where they are heading.
It’s worth seeing just for Noomie Rapace. Stockholm and the other locations are well used. But I have some doubts I can’t quite put my finger on. I will still, of course, rush to the third film as soon as it opens. The Stratford Picture House was not full for the first day of this movie and that’s disappointing. Do go see it and tell me what you think, especially if you saw “Tattoo”. You don’t have to have seen that to follow this, but it helps.
Go see the special performance of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” at Stratford Picture House at 11pm on Saturday, August 28th. It’s a special one off screening for charity. You can get details on the Picture House web site.