Picking up where 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' left off, Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) and the Millennium team are back with a tighter storyline and sharpened performances in 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' - the second adaptation of late author Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' trilogy. Prepare for some pretty brutal scenes which could leave even the most ardent thriller enthusiast reaching for the nearest shoulder to hide behind.
Still traumatised after her rape, Salander returns to Sweden from her Caribbean exile and soon finds the finger of blame pointing in her direction when three people are found dead. The body of her rapist/legal guardian Bjurman (Andersson) has been discovered in his apartment along with those of an investigative journalist and his girlfriend who had been working to expose a sex trafficking ring involving government officials.
While Salander desperately tries to prove her innocence by seeking out her own evidence, Millennium's chief reporter Blomkvist (Nyqvist) launches a one-man investigation, after the police decide to follow the wrong lead.
Larsson's intricate universe is kept alive in this exciting action sequel, which moves swiftly on from the first instalment and leaves us with a hunger for the third. The introduction of new director Alfredson has given a fresh perspective and approach to the adaptation of the bestselling books.
What makes these films so intriguing is the mysterious demeanour of the central character. Rapace is faultless in her portrayal of the tormented girl whose life gets more and more complex as the films goes on. The journey into Salander's colourful past throughout this thriller will be welcomed by those wishing to see more of her personal life and spend some time delving into the details of the character.
Although there is plenty of suspense throughout the film, and we are left on tenterhooks in the scenes leading up to the finale, some far-fetched elements let the plot down a little and leave 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' at times looking more like a TV crime episode than a confident blockbuster.
That aside, with a quality sequel under his belt, Alfredson's take on 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' - due to be released in November -promises to be a treat and a fitting end to the trilogy.